Audiences are often split on the subject of solo plays. Relying on both a strong story and an engaging actor to tell it well they can so often be a major disappointment. When they are done right, however, it can be an unmissable event. This can be said of Tom Wainwright’s play Banksy: The Room in the Elephant,starring Gary Beadle.
Banksy: The Room in the Elephant – Pleasance Above, Edinburgh
Writer: Tom Wainwright
Telling the true story – with admitted artistic license – of the incident during which a man living in an abandoned water cylinder was made homeless after Banksy spray painted the phrase, ‘This Looks A Bit Like An Elephant’ on it, the play deftly tackles the subjects of art, humanity and money with both respect and a healthy dose of humour. Wainwright’s script, along with skilful direction from Emma Callander, unfurls the story gently and carefully.
Using a combination of storytelling techniques – a toy rat, a camera on stage, flashbacks and forwards – the tale comes to life bit by bit as we simultaneously find out exactly how the artwork came about and who this man, often the least interesting of the two men involved in this story but clearly the one most affected, is. Beadle lights up the stage from the moment he enters and masterfully portrays both the character’s indignation at his treatment and his charisma and boundless optimism for life and humanity. A particular highlight includes a reconstruction of the apparent conversation between the man and Banksy during which the latter asks for permission to do the artwork and the former tries to get him to explain what exactly doing so is supposed to achieve igniting a hilarious but pertinent debate about the definition and value of art. This play is a real delight, make every effort to catch it this fringe.
Runs until Mon 26th Aug