When did Bermondsey get so trendy? When I first arrived in London, losing sight of the river anywhere east of London bridge was immediate precursor to losing your wallet or several pints of blood. It certainly wasn’t the place to go to enjoy loft living, check out a new vintage boutique, grab a bite at the local gastropub and then taste a few local microbrews while blogging about your trip to the nearby climbing wall and juice bar.
I am reliably informed, in fact, that Bermondsey is the new Hoxton. I’m not trying to sell you a flat, but according to my observations last Saturday, it certainly is an upcoming artistic and cultural hotspot: nearly everybody I saw was dressed up as a sexy witch, a sexy cat, a sexy devil or a stab victim (some things never change, I suppose). If that doesn’t say “artistic enclave close to shops and bars” then I don’t know what does.
The particular warehouse conversion I was there to see has been recently renovated to a high standard in neutral colours and now boasts a spacious bar perfect for entertaining and an enormous clunking and hissing metal machine – certain to be a conversation piece at your next social gathering.
Money, the new site specific show from Shunt, centres on this machine, which is some sort of vague analogy for capitalism or the fall of man or man’s inhumanity to man or the condition of man or man’s natural state as savage or something. It’s never quite clear and the whole message behind proceedings turns out to be really quite blunt – but that’s hardly the point because this was never really going to be about a message or a story or identifiable theme, and is really all about the proceedings themselves, which are actually quite slick and well done.
We are marched around and plunged into darkness, we watch from below and above, we pelt performers with plastic balls as we drink champagne – a particular metatheatrical conceit which will be extended by statute to all theatres in the land when I’m Prime Minister – and we sit transfixed as the entite machine tries one spin cycle too far and attempts takeoff with us inside.
The plot is absent and the mock gravity is laughable (our actors had an especially tough time performing the late show on a Saturday night which happens to be haloween and where the bar has been open for three and a half hours – later on a stage manager appealed plaintively for the return of a pilfered door key), but that’s never the point. This is really a very silly and pointless show, but the attention to detail us superb and the set pieces are fantasticly slick which is really the whole point.
Early viewing recommended.