Zoo Southside – Studio
It is estimated that approximately 10,000 people live in boats in London alone and I am technically one of them. I say technically because I don’t live in London anymore.
In most cases, as for Jenny Witzel, people chose to live on the water because the cost is cheaper. Hence, this is not a show about boating (yes, I was secretly hoping for that) but about the rising costs of rent. It is also a show about gentrification and a musing on objects retrieved by the mudlarks on the bed of the Deptford Creek.
It starts with an historical introduction on the role of the creek’s estuary throughout the centuries. From its importance as a dock in Victorian times, to the African communities that populate its surroundings nowadays. In 2014 I worked on a site-specific show in the area and so have fond memories of the places she describes. Compared to where I was living at the time, it felt genuine, a “proper” neighbourhood.
Jenny’s emotional attachment to the story doesn’t go unnoticed. With the help of an overhead projector, she shows us artefacts that the Creekside Discovery Centre fished from the mud and collected throughout the years. Some of them are more recent – like a toy car or a VHS of Titanic – others go back over a hundred years. She talks to us in such a gentle way and it’s a pleasure listening to her – however alarming the final message is.
Because of its many leads and multi-mediatic nature, one must be prepared to embrace the episodic structure of this performance. Ultimately, all the various aspects come together in an endearing tribute to an area that is being washed off by the developers’ greed. Transformed into yet another cluster of yellowish brick buildings marketed as “luxury flats”.
It is a beautiful work, but, because not a lot has been said about boats, I leave the auditorium wondering whether the play on words with Crick Show – the most famous boat festival in the UK – is intentional.
Written by: Jenny Witzel
Directed by: Luke Lewin Davies
Produced by: Jenny Witzel
CREEKSHOW plays at EdFringe 2023 until 27 August, 12pm. Further information and bookings here.