Theatre review: Babel at Caledonian Park

16:47 21 May 2012

Babel. Photo by Steve Tanner

Babel. Photo by Steve Tanner

Archant

Large-scale outdoor project makes for an entertaining evening – but not great theatre

»Babel is a large-scale project with hundreds of volunteer performers, billed as the theatrical event of the year and a celebration of the “exhilarating diversity” of London for the Olympic year.

But it starts in rather more mundane fashion than the lofty PR talk would suggest – with a great stonking queue around the block, as around a thousand wait to be funnelled into the outdoor setting, Caledonian Park.

Eventually we enter a bizarre realm where people iron perched up a tree and wander up and down in white cloaks hauntingly muttering “it’s time to build a new city”. There is a buzzing atmosphere as groups crowd around the different areas: some make plasticine figurines, a gazebo is filled with knitting, a fantastic jazz band plays.

After a while, attention is drawn to the impressively-lit clock tower and the play unfolds. It centres on a clash between police authority figures and the settlers camped outside the tower. The leader rails against these people, ordering them to be searched, apprehended, their homes moved or knocked down, until eventually even his own officers turn against him and side with the beleaguered masses.

It starts well and there are moments of humour and excitement, but the audience is never fully swept up into the story, which has little plot movement and few ideas in play. It’s a fun experience, but not great theatre.

* Babel, produced by WildWorks and the Battersea Arts Centre, was at Caledonian Park, N7, between May 8 and May 20.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Claire Foy has said she found filming her Wolf Hall death scene emotional.

Read more

The BBC director-general has addressed listener worries about changes to The Archers, saying he hopes it doesn’t “lose what is precious”.

Read more

Promoted content

Valentine's Day in London

If you’re struggling over what to buy for the special person in your life in your life, our Valentine’s Day in London section is here to help.

Established in 1987, Tucci is one of the North's premier stores for branded clothing, footwear and accessories.

Save up to 70% on designer brands for Men and Women, including G-Star, Diesel, French Connection, Firetrap and many more….our sale is now on.

Top Stories

Quizzes

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

It’s time to test your knowledge on the two London institutions: the Underground, and the boozer.

Read more
Adrian Chiles is no longer ITV's main man... so why not test your knowledge of some of his (and others') greatest gaffes? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With news of presenter Adrian Chiles’ sacking by ITV, it’s a good time to remember some of the most memorable punditry blunders.

Read more
[Image by Gary Tallowin]

In which we remember the stations that have gone before...

Read more