Land of the Three Towers Vol. II – Maxilla Hall Social Club, London

Writer/Director: Emer Mary Morris and Nina Scott

Reviewer: Lucy Lambert

Theatre company ‘You Should See the Other Guy’ celebrates the idea that theatre has the power to bring about social change, and creates DIY performance in response to contemporary political struggles. Their series ‘Land of the Three Towers’ was born out of their involvement in the occupation of four empty flats on the Carpenters Estate in Newham.

The second volume in this project sees them continue their fight for ‘social housing not social cleansing’ through a 75-minute musical, using the real testimonies of the cast, all of whom have experienced precarious housing situations.

As activism, the piece is inclusive, rousing and practical, with a four-stage ‘Toolkit for Resistance’ handed out to everyone in the audience, which forms the structure of the show. The piece moves between moments of urgent and moving testimony, and moments of joyful consensus, as the validity and importance of all kinds of housing struggles are treated with the same mix of urgency and humour. The production shows that political resistance isn’t just about anger—it can be about finding strength, solidarity and joy in communities through sharing experiences and tips for direct action.

As a piece of theatre, it is rough around the edges, and some exceptional cast members never quite take flight. However, Chisara Agor is a revelation, and her performance is captivating, providing moments of spine-tingling musical excellence. Jennifer Joseph, widely seen in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy, is excellent as always and brings a mix of wisdom, irreverence and humanity that is riveting.

Politically, this production is ambitious, loving and timely and will go long way to maintaining vital conversations about London’s housing crisis. But as theatre, it is less than the sum of its parts, and its lack of cohesion means that it ultimately falls short of its potential.

Runs until 26 May 2018 | Image: Contributed

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