Writer: Amy Gwilliam
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
On joining property developer Frankie Foxstone on her tour around Leake Street Tunnel, just outside the VAULT Festival, you begin to think that this will be an anti-gentrification piece. Frankie calls the area a S.D.O., a Sensational Development Opportunity. Surely, some would agree with her but for the rest of us the broken glass and graffitied walls hold a certain charm.
The area should be knocked down, she proclaims, and with her voice and her blond hair sweeping out under her hard hat, she’s a bit like a bossy Anneka Rice circa Challenge Anneka. Instead of the tags and the spray cans, build luxury apartments or fancy health spas or even a space rocket launcher. Think big, she tells us. The world is our oyster.
But rather than deliver a warning about gentrification’s inequality, this show is really about collaboration and it’s a credit to Frankie, played gamely by Amy Gwilliam, that the audience has no problem doing the silly things that she tells them to do. Even when a group of drunken lads threaten to get involved the audience continue to obediently follow her instructions. Her games sound divisive, but quickly we talked to each other, ignoring the usual etiquette of theatre.
Frankie discloses her Five Step Plan for success, and it sounds like a capitalist’s dream, and towards the end she reveals how developers circumnavigate building regulations and ignore the requirements to provide affordable housing. But the tour never becomes too political, or too serious. And even though we know that Frankie would stop at nothing to build her Empire, we can’t help love her all the same. ‘We’re with you, Frankie’ the audience chorus several times.
And so disciples of Frankie, the audience, now a cohesive force, follows her back through the tunnels, and there’s a certain unexpected joy at the end of this 50-minute show. It may be damp and a little cold, but the audience wanted more. And perhaps that’s the perfect way to end a show that is all about greed.
Runs until 2 February 2020