Kandinsky’s Trap Street is an intelligent and discerning play that documents the devastating effects of London’s housing crisis, on generations both past and present. This issue is multi-layered and deeply complex, and writers James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney have created a play that offers a visual commentary on both the power that these buildings have over people and the class systems, poverty and relationships that are tied up inside.
We follow a family over fifty years, watching as their high-rise of hope for a better future is built up and then torn down before their eyes. The show flickers back in time, revealing fragments of a mother’s, and eventually her daughter’s, journey. The scenes intertwining and revealing how history repeats itself, again and again. Valerie longs for a community, a place to settle down and make roots-without living with the constant fear that they will be torn from her feet without a moments notice.
Amelda Brown’s performance as both the mother and the adult daughter is powerful, to say the least. We see Valerie’s pain and desperation as she attempts to create a home for her children, both of Brown’s characters encompassing a frustration and righteous fury that ripples across the stage. Danusia Samal and Hamish MacDougall play both brother and sister, as well as every other character in the entire production. Watching these two tremendous actors traverse the stage, seamlessly becoming landlords, children, police officers and estate agents is incredible-they are true chameleons and the play rides on their talent.
Set designers Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen’s have created a stark white wall that dominates the space, a window and a door that could be any building or any estate-even your own. It stands centre stage, appearing half as contemporary sculpture and half canvas. Allowing us to imagine both the spartan hallways of a home on the edge of demolition and the white walls of a promised utopian future. Alongside the set, Zac Gvirtzman scores the show live, and with such precision and skill, you only remember he’s there when he stands for the final bow.
The broken timeline sometimes makes it difficult to understand the characters intentions or motivations in each scene. But by the end of the play, this patchwork of moments and memories stitches itself into a larger picture.The crisis that London is currently in. With the demolition of places such as the Heygate estate not far in the past, the community displaced across London, and the tragedy of Grenfell tower still etched in our minds it is easy to see how relevant this play is. Trap Street manages to address these issues with an artistic subtly and nuance. Creating a vivid mural of moments that remind us that we must not think about the buildings, but about the people inside them.