Whilst wandering down the South Bank the other day my friends and I came across a caravan. Having earlier this year done a show that was partly set in a caravan (our MA Project at East 15), our interest was immediately piqued.
As we approached we saw that this, too, was a play set in a caravan, but in this case they actually had a real caravan, something we’d tried our best to do but just couldn’t manage with our budget. A mixture of envy and admiration ran through me. This caravan was brown and blue, tiny, possibly a two-berth. Outside stood two young women, one looking official with some pieces of paper and one jauntily smoking a fag. I guessed instantly which of the two would be performing, for it was indeed a one-woman show, brave soul!
I don’t want to give too much away, as part of the fun of it was not knowing what to expect, but needless to say the 15-minute play takes place inside the caravan, with an audience capacity of 5 per performance. The Alan Key, written by Sammy Kissin, produced by Robin Linde (@robinlinde) and performed by Judith Amsenga, is part of Merge Festival, an annual festival of art, music and performance that celebrates the culture of Bankside, London.
The show blurb outside the caravan reads: “This story plunges us into the tragi-comic reality of what it means to be a human; searching for love and meaning in the assemble-it-yourself age of Ikea. Jo’s bed is falling apart. When she goes to Ikea to buy a new one, it seems her life is on the verge of doing the same. What she doesn’t factor in is how everything is about to change.”
Of course, in a quarter of an hour you can only give a snippet of the human existence, but it is a revealing one and certainly 15 minutes well spent. Audience participation was not discouraged, so I stepped into the world they were creating for us and asked a few questions here and there. Buy into the scene and you become a part of the action, which is all the more fun!
The Alan Key is showing until Sunday 11th October, with the last show at 6.45pm. Tickets are free and can be booked online at www.mergefestival.co.uk. The caravan is outside the Tate Modern, so perfectly situated for a wander around the gallery or a coffee and cake afterwards. Well, that’s what I did!