THE HOUSE THAT SLIPPED at The Albany and live on Zoom
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
There were a great many pleasures to be had in The House That Slipped, a witty and wise lockdown show devised, written and performed by Teatro Vivo. But the greatest by far was the fact that its finale was staged live, albeit with social-distancing restrictions. It was the first face-to-face event I had seen since early March and boy, did it make me really appreciate just how important live arts are.
The drama played out in real time over five interactive nights on Zoom before its live climax in the garden at the Albany on a wonderfully warm summer night. In a nutshell, it focused on municipal civil servant Kev, his librarian wife Sandra, her yuppie banker sister Julia and family friend Yasmin who find themselves transported through a wormhole in the space-time continuum to 2070 Lewisham, which has become a society of equality, peace, stability and prosperity where humans are cared for by bots and the likes of Soleen, a genetically engineered multi-species creature.
Sandra delights in this newfound utopia in which she has become something of a celebrity through her knowledge of history, all records of the past having been accidentally wiped by 2070. But quiz enthusiast Kev can’t share her enthusiasm and is desperately pining for his narrow world of town hall red tape and pub quizzes while Julia yearns for her old life as a fat cat City slicker.
A way to return to Covid-hit 2020 is found. But while Kevin, Julia and Soleen seize the opportunity, Sandra quietly slips out of their house and remains in the future.
Her decision prompted a series of fascinating and timely moral dilemmas about the nature of isolation, love, loyalty, community and self-worth which we, the audience, had to answer.
I wish more time had gone into exploring these issues than in staging one of Kev’s quizzes or the returnees performing what they thought were Sandra’s favourite songs – although I must admit I greatly enjoyed the bizarre contrast between their unplugged version of George Michael’s Careless Whisper and a grime track blaring out of a nearby house.
But having said that, I really loved this show, which was directed (and included a guest guitarist spot) by Mark Stevenson. Kas Darley made a splendidly snooty Julia, Tasha Magigi was a force of nature as Yasmin, Bernadette Russell cleverly mixed excitement and fear as fish-out-of-water Soleen and Michael Wagg was eerily on the mark as boring old Kev. The stand-out turn for me, though, was Sarah Finigan as Sandra, who perfectly captured the agony of having to choose between her self-crushing love for Kev and her confidence-boosting love for her new life.
And even better, as I said at the start, was that this was live theatre again after an absence of five months. So thanks, Teatro Vivo, and thanks also to the Albany for hosting it. What a joy to back!