Banksy: The Room in the Elephant
31st July to 12th August, 14th August to 19th August, 21st August to 26th August
Stewert Lee did a great routine a couple of years ago about how humans are the only animals who chose to live in an investment. Well this show asks the question what if you don’t chose to live an investment but your home later becomes one after superstar street artist Banksy decides to scribble all over it? Such is the dilemma of the poor homeless guy depicted in this fantastic one man show. There is little doubt that the portrait of said homeless guy is somewhat romantic, right down to his pet toy rat and multiple religious experiences, but the writer is fully aware of this and at no point does the depiction become condescending or patronising. In fact it treats the subject with total respect while not shying away from the grim reality of life on the streets.
For the countless among you who are avid Banksy fans this may also re-awaken you to the fact that this man is no saint. Often supporting the capitalist behemoths he appears to lampoon. No doubt this poor guys home, a disused water tank, since having the words “This looks a bit like an Elephant” written along it’s side will make the faceless legal firm who bought it a fair wedge of cash as it sits empty and disused in an anonymous warehouse somewhere in LA. After all, making money is what they do. One would hope that this delightful play, superbly performed by Eastender’s Gary Beadle, may turn the tide against them. After all, if you ask me, it makes a far more worthy, powerful and relevant statement about home, money and art than the frankly slightly juvenile Banksy comment. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Banksy. He’s a brave and wonderfully irreverent voice in the art world and we desperately need figures like him to keep things interesting. But we also need characters like the guy who lived in the water tank and plays like this. What we maybe don’t need is the faceless law firms who not only see art, but even our very homes, as nothing more than investments. FOUR STARS
Review by Steven Vickers