The Ramshackle House

Reviewed by Flossie Waite
An Upswing production
Playing at Stratford Circus Arts Centre until 24th December
For ages 3+

The narrative of The Ramshackle House will resonate with anyone affected by London’s housing crisis – it’s a tale of overcrowding, disputes between housemates, and going to extreme lengths to make a tiny home liveable. Whether it’s a bunch of fresh-faced millennials, or a growing family – as is the case in this show, in which a single man (Renato Dias) begins living with his partner (Delia Ceruti), and then their child (Matthew Smith) – co-habiting is a state of precariousness, requiring compromise, communication, and careful negotiations of space. Circus theatre company Upswing command the ideal medium to explore this constant balancing act, portraying it most literally – and perilously – as performers Ceruti and Dias sit either side of an elevated see-saw made from a wooden plank resting on a ladder rung.

ramshackle_0362-hres-credit-Mark-Robson-copy.jpg

Photo: Mark Robson

This virtually wordless production communicates more effectively than the company’s scripted show Bedtime Stories by allowing the movement to do all the talking. Smith’s acrobatics depict a child too excitable to sit still, turning the pages of his book whilst simultaneously performing a one-armed handstand on his chair; the woman’s romantic life is captured by Ceruti tying herself up in knots with a tangle of aerial ropes trying to reach her future partner; their family is the gymnastic feats the trio can only achieve together.

Forever struggling with floor space, the family’s lives play out on the roof – from doing the laundry to first dates – but Becky Minto’s set really comes into its own when they decide to build a room there. The race to get it done before Christmas means not only shelves and a bunk bed are installed, but the addition of fairy lights and a Christmas tree cleverly created from lampshades.

The Ramshackle House feels as emotionally truthful as the set-up is fantastical, with the couple’s exasperation, and subsequent divide, at life with a restless child particularly poignant. This is contemporary circus with a Roald Dahl twist, and it’s food for thought for an increasingly squeezed Generation Rent – if all else fails, perhaps a solution can be found if we just look up.

Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.

Advertisements

2 responses to “The Ramshackle House

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s