Style: Interactive self-aware storytelling
Where: Deptford Lounge
When: Until 25th May
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Drawing the line takes place in a room that looks rather like a school gymnasium. Between that and the fact that the ‘line’ is literally represented by a thick piece of rope suspiciously like those we were made to climb as children and this show started by evoking some bad memories.
Thankfully, despite there being plenty of school style activities to take part in, including chalk drawing, building blocks and an interesting take on dodgeball, this was the last moment I felt that choking fear that anyone was going to make me climb anything.
Drawing the line is a really sweet, really beautiful and well thought out piece. Where it has limitations, in budget and scope, it finds self-referential ways to laugh through them. Where is has confusion, it makes that an explicit part of the storytelling.
What I like most about this show is that it doesn’t look like it cost the Earth, yet it still lets you lose yourself in its world. It’s not heavy on set like other shows, but it combines interesting elements of modelling, puppetry and simple imaginative fun to explore important political themes of division and unity, relative strength and weakness, insiders and outsiders and how the rules work – and don’t work.
The messages sometimes threaten to be heavyhanded, but in truth, the humour of the piece allows that to be drawn back from every time. The playfulness belies the seriousness of the message without undercutting it.
The three performers, Nisa Cole as the Lineswoman and Steph Reynolds and writer and Director Elliot Hughes as the Guardians are all utterly charming. They take what the audience throws at them in good grace and humour. They led the games particularly well at the performance I witnessed which was an accessible performance for those with visual impairments. Never patronising, never leading but always aware of what we could and couldn’t do.
There are some rough edges to the show, but for the most part, they belong there. They are part of what humanises this charming and captivating show. I would be interested to see what this group can and will do with a bigger budget, but I am also really grateful for the demonstration that interactive theatre doesn’t have to be high end to be high class.