If you spotted a caravan parked on our forecourt a few weeks ago, you may have wondered what on earth was going on. In fact, the caravan is our latest performance space, the home to a unique production, co-commissioned by The Marlowe Theatre from innovative theatre company The Paper Birds. Marketing Publications Officer Kate Evans was one of those who stepped inside.
Theatre, performed in a caravan? While festivals like Edinburgh have a variety of weird and wonderful performance spaces, for us, this was something new. A unique space, in which a unique production takes place.
The show is called Mobile, and it features everything from teacups, Connect 4 and a censorious microwave, to the space shuttle, using all of these to ask some questions about social mobility and that most British obsession, class. Questions like – how important are our childhood backgrounds to our adult selves? How does it feel to leave behind the people you’ve grown up with? Can you ever truly escape your background?
I have to admit I was unsure about the idea of sharing an intimate space with nine other people (the caravan can accommodate an audience of nine plus one performer). However, although the caravan is cosy, it doesn’t feel as if your personal space is being invaded, and the caravan is no more crowded than your average commuter train to London.
The caravan has certainly allowed The Paper Birds to create a production like no other I’ve ever seen – it’s hard to describe without ruining the effect, but it features video projections and film clips, as well as recorded interviews with people from Kent and the North-East of England (Newcastle’s Live Theatre were our co-commissioners for Mobile).
The intimacy does produces strange moments. One of the lines, “What if you went to Oxford, but you grew up in a council house?”, was delivered directly to me – now, although I didn’t grow up in a council house, both of my parents did, and I did go to Oxford.
Wherever you place yourself on the continuum of class – or if you still think in terms of the class divide – Mobile is rewarding, witty and thought-provoking show. It will be back on our forecourt next month, and will also be popping up on Canterbury High Street and outside the Turner Contemporary, before a final appearance on the forecourt as part of our 5th anniversary celebrations in October.