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The Good Neighbour, Battersea Arts Centre

Intrepid Explorers Tour (Adults)
Presented by the Battersea Arts Centre

Pros: A thought-provoking, inclusive and friendly production.

Cons: Could perhaps have been a little shorter; at times a little unpolished.

Our Verdict: Story-telling turned on its head. Certainly worth the trip down to South London!

Courtesy of the BAC

The Battersea Arts Centre, affectionately known as the BAC, probably doesn’t look like you’d expect it to. Based in a grade two listed Victorian town hall, it is an imposing but welcoming venue, with warm staff and a family-friendly atmosphere. The Good Neighbour, the BAC’s most recent offering, is actually three productions in one, each tailored to a different age group for maximum inclusivity, and all taking as a starting point the heroic actions of one George Neighbour.

The journey we experienced was the adult one (the ‘Intrepid Explorer’), which takes the form of a ramble around Battersea. There is no ‘plot’ per se, rather we are treated to series of interconnected stories – all true – linking the past and present of the local Battersea community, and drawing heavily on the divisive effect of the 2011 London Riots around Clapham Junction. The aim is to provoke thought about the way in which we interact with our neighbours, and what it means to live in a community. The result is a powerful and engaging narrative which resonates with communities beyond the SW11 postcode.

The easiest way to describe the performance is as a guided tour, but in truth it amounts to much more. It swings between performance and discussion, and the audience are encouraged to offer up their own stories and opinions. Four guides lead different groups – so everyone gets a different journey. The performances are often brutally honest, and emotive. Lakeisha Lymch-Stevens, Conrad Murray, Simone Kenyon and their ringleader Richard Duffy are delightful hosts who switch easily between characterisation, narrative and their own selves. Hats off also to the team of stewards quietly shepherding their audience through the streets of Battersea!

There is always a danger with promenade, or site-specific theatre, that inclement weather might spoil an otherwise enjoyable production. Thankfully the BAC has thought of everything. Umbrellas and hot drinks (and a smidgen of whiskey!) are enough to keep anybody smiling. Even the array of weird and wonderful props prove to be remarkably weather resistant. So don’t let the rain scare you off, but do wrap up warm – it’s perhaps a little long in places!

All in all, The Good Neighbour is an engaging, interesting and very enjoyable production which addresses some difficult issues, against the backdrop of the local landscape. This multi-faceted production is accessible to all age groups and all walks of life, but be prepared to get involved!

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

The Good Neighbour runs at the Battersea Arts Centre until 4th November 2012.
Box Office: 020 7223 2223 or book online at http://www.bac.org.uk/whats-on/good-neighbour/

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