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Review: Gutter Street Nights, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Playing as part of ChewFest

Playing as part of ChewFest Day five of ChewFest felt an easy night for Chewboy Productions, as they sat back and handed the stage over to Gutter Street. Yes, Georgie Bailey and Hal Darling might have been doing the tech for the evening, but when that mostly involved bantering with one of the performers about which lights worked best for sunrise, it wasn’t going to be the most taxing of evenings! Gutter Street have plenty of experience in curating: they do a monthly evening at Camden’s Green Note, where they invite five acts to create a piece of work…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

It’s not theatre in any form you probably know it, but it is an evening that shows what depth of talent is out there, making art for all to enjoy.

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Day five of ChewFest felt an easy night for Chewboy Productions, as they sat back and handed the stage over to Gutter Street. Yes, Georgie Bailey and Hal Darling might have been doing the tech for the evening, but when that mostly involved bantering with one of the performers about which lights worked best for sunrise, it wasn’t going to be the most taxing of evenings!

Gutter Street have plenty of experience in curating: they do a monthly evening at Camden’s Green Note, where they invite five acts to create a piece of work on a given theme. And it felt rather like they had also brought along a fair number of their regular audience to help fill out the benches of Lion and Unicorn Theatre.

It’s not a conventional theatre night; there are none of the usual theatre hushed tones. Rather there’s a raucous feel, with the audience whooping and cheering. And that is in no way a criticism, as it’s wonderful to be part of something so alive, so different, and which demonstrates the vast array of talent within our midst.

There’s also a chaotic feel, yet you get the impression that, in reversal of the usual swan analogy, beneath the surface everything is graceful and smooth. The colourful (in outfit as well as delivery) Isobel Warner kicks things off with an intro of what to expect for those of us new to their nights, whilst Leo Flanagan and Josh Barrow beaver away to keep it all moving along nicely.

And then it’s over to the five invited acts. Up first is the most theatre-esque, Jack Hart. Jack offers up a short extract from the musical they promises will be with us in five years time. Its story of going through auditions for drama school is humorous and gets a lot of knowing nods from an audience that is clearly full of people who have been there! Jack is followed by Kiki Brown who delights with two beautiful pieces of her poetry. There is a hushed silence as she speaks, testament to how we’ve been enchanted by her words.

Act three is Ellis Jupiter’s stand-up routine. It might not be the strongest of the night, but comedy is the hardest of things to perfect, so events like this are a great way to develop. London Foxes (aka Lucas Jones) offers up an incredibly intimate performance, inviting the audience to gather around him on the stage. His three-song set is varied and in this tight environment the emotion of it all shines through. His second song with guest singer Kiera is simply stunning. Then wrapping it all up is Gabriel Akamo, with some short snappy spoken word that is a great way to end the main event.

The second half of the evening is open mic. It’s amazing what talent there is in the room, as people step up to deliver spoken words and songs. It is also an indication of the make-up of the audience, with so many performers amongst us!

Evenings such as this do run the risk of feeling a closed shop; that if you aren’t part of the in-crowd, you might not feel welcome. But somehow Gutter Street avoid this. Yes, it’s clearly a night for artists to get together and support each other, but there is so much to enjoy there seems no reason it wouldn’t be open for anyone to head along to watch, soaking in the talent around you. It might not strictly be theatre, but it is a great night out and perhaps Gutter Street Nights should become a regular part of our diary?

Produced by: Gutter Street

This performance played as part of ChewFest. The next Gutter Street Night is 13 June at Green Note. Further information and bookings can be found here. Gutter Street also have their next play, Bliss, performing at Etcetera Theatre on 10 and 11 June. More information can be found here.

About Rob Warren

Someone once described Rob as "the left leaning arm of Everything Theatre" and it's a description he proudly accepted. It is also a description that explains many of his play choices, as he is most likely to be found at plays that try to say something about society. Willing though to give most things a watch, with the exception of anything immersive - he prefers to sit quietly at the back watching than taking part!
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