Devisors and Directors: Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
Bristol has just, this previous Sunday, been named the best city to live in the UK once again, this time in a feature by the Sunday Times and the backlash has already started. Some have opined that there is an agenda in place to send the hip and cultured out of London and into Bristol, pricing those already living here out of the market. The generation rent crisis is now taking place all over the country, not just in the capital. Which is why Sh!t Theatre’s latest work Letters To Windsor House feels so pertinent right now.
Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit are the closest of friends, they make work for their company and are flatmates in the aforementioned Windsor House a former council flat in the North London borough of Manor House. It would be a tough gig for an estate agent to sell, a bit of a dump in all respects. They may leave their front door to see people smoking crack in telephone boxes or to grab their milk from a 24 hour Polish newsagent but just a hop, step and jump down the street, a new building complex is being set up; apartments for those who have a million pounds to splash, with around the clock security, concierge services and a kayak lake. How the other half lives can be glimpsed with just a couple of minutes stroll.
It’s also a show about letters, letters sent for previous tenants, letters that the girls open and from these beginnings create imagined lives for these people based on the junk mail, the tax bills, the magazines they are sent. They search out these people online, through Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Linked In. Yet part way through, their investigations take a more serious turn, when they discover they may be illegally subletting a council house.
Then there are the letters the girls write to each other, full of searching questions. What makes it particularly affecting is how honest the work feels, two girls rummaging through their lives and revealing some painful truths alongside the jokes and the songs. It is about the pressure of living together when you are just scraping by, about how their art bleeds into everything, can the company still exist as it is, if they no longer share everything.
In 70 minutes these two come to seem like friends. Its coda feels the obvious endpoint yet aches with melancholia.
It breezes along with the company’s trademark DIY aesthetic full of catchy songs, video recordings that are a little fuzzy and a whole lot of charm that hides some more serious points underneath. This is performance art at its most accessible, full of revealing honest truths, linking the political and personal and never afraid to put the serious and the ridiculous side by side. Bursting at the seams with ideas it’s a terrific 70-minute look at the issues facing generation rent.
Runs until 25 March 2017 and continues to tour | Image: Claire Nolan