Think BBC Drama The Royle Family meets South-American ‘magical realism’. Sat in a decaying Cuban flat, the Sanchez household receive a package; they have been waiting for its arrival for forty-two years (which gives us an insight into the Cuban postal system). Inside is a foreign newspaper, a blonde wig, a spoon and an empty mustard jar. Their initial disappointment is stirred by the revelation that these ordinary goods harbour mysterious magical powers which transform their lives for good and bad, changing things forever. It’s an interesting concept but unfortunately the production loses focus. I’d have preferred a deeper focus on the mundane ins and outs of their lives, which the play’s early focus is directed towards. Ant Street endeavours to do too much- this is its downfall.
Nicky Goldie prevails as the star performer of the performance, whilst the rest of the cast are never entirely convincing. The narrative is explored through story-telling as each character takes a turn to describe the chain of events which followed after opening the mysterious package. An interesting concept, but unfortunately, our disconnection to some of the characters hinders engagement with the plot. Touches of comedy stir the production at times, but overall, it is lengthy and should be condensed some more.
Ant Street is lively and quirky but falls slightly short of the mark. After its initial promise, it deflates and ultimately leaves us wanting a little more. Studio 2 of the Arcola Theatre offers far more scope for experimentation with stage design. The space was used very effectively in hamlet is dead. no gravity earlier in the VOLTA festival. Here, it is static and much more could have been done with it. Nevertheless, Ant Street has its good moments and provided intriguing momentary insights into Cuban culture.
- Written by Roland Schimmelpfennig
- Directed by Amelia Sears
- Translated by David Tushingham
- Part of the VOLTA International Festival
- Arcola Theatre, London
- Until 19 September 2015
- Review by Sam Pengelly
- 10 September 2015