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Love is all you need: The Island @cervantesthtr

A drama set on the seventh floor of a non-descript hospital waiting room may not be everyone's idea of a great night at the theatre. But love and all other forms of the human condition are dissected in Juan Carlos Rubio's The Island. Translated by Tim Gutteridge, it feels like everything is up for grabs. What is love? Is it a bond between two women with a fifteen-year age gap? Is it the love between a mother and her son with a severe unknown disability? A wonderful life full of health and happiness is not always an option on the menu, and the choices may become a bit less palatable. Throughout a series of sometimes banal conversations, what comes out is a story of two women with lives that are separate and together. And while the piece becomes darker on one level as it progresses, it never ceases to fascinate and draw further insights into the couples. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .  A couple waits in a hospital waiting room for the outcome of an accident

Strange animals: Banksy: The Room in the Elephant @arcolatheatre

In 2011, while Banksy was in California he decided to write on a derelict white water tank "this looks a bit like an elephant".

Suddenly a piece of junk in Los Angeles becomes the latest sought after piece of art, cranes arrive and it is carted off to a secret location and offered for sale.

But the work of art had also been a home a man had been living in for the past seven years. He finds the furnishing it with things he found discarded, finds himself homeless.

This is the is the story that makes up Banksy: The Room in the Elephant playing at the Arcola Theatre. Tachowa Covington, the man who lived in the elephant recounts his experiences in LA, living amongst the rich and famous and meeting Banksy.

The inspiration for the work came from a story Did Banksy's latest work bring misery to a homeless man? Presented as a one man show and also as a commentary both on the art world and the theatre world (since both are making something out of someone else's story), it is a fascinating and emotional journey into one man's life outside the mainstream.

Performed by Gary Beadle (known as Eastenders’ Paul Trueman and for acclaimed roles in the Royal Court’s Sucker Punch and Chichester Festival Theatre’s Blue Remembered Hills), he brings raw emotion and humanity to the piece which blends fiction and reality and holds your attention for the entire one hour.

It was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and is at the Arcola Theatre as part of a national tour and is a theatrical experience to remember for its sensitive handling of both homelessness and how we deal with it through art and theatre, which is more than can be said for Banksy. The news story from three years ago seems to give Banksy undeserved credit for drawing attention to the plight of the homeless. You won't find that here. Banksy, like his art, comes across as fairly simple minded.

The piece is presented alongside the film Something From Nothing, which is directed and filmed by Hal Samples. Samples had been documented homelessness since 2004 and met Tachowa in 2008. As writer of the piece Tom Wainwright notes, it is an opportunity to present his work in tandem with the truth. A teaser to the film is available on Hal Samples Youtube channel.

Banksy The Room In the Elephant and the film Something From Nothing runs at the Arcola Theatre until 26 April.


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