Cardboard Citizens & London Bubble, The Lower Depths

Review in Issue 10-2 | Summer 1998

This is an exciting and moving production by Britain’s only professional theatre company whose members have all experienced homelessness. In collaboration with London Bubble Theatre, the show is a revisit of the company’s 1996 production of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths, staged at the company’s new base, The Section, below the Bridge Housing Association Hostel in Hackney.

Gorky’s text is intelligently adapted and brought up to date by company director Adrian Jackson. The deliberate confusion at the beginning as to when and where the piece is set highlights the universal and timeless nature of the themes and characters. The acting is superb throughout. The cast create and maintain strong, believable characters and the performances are brave and instinctive, with barely a trick or cliché in sight. The strong sense of community and shared hardship, regardless of status or background, make this more than a piece about homelessness. It is about people, past, present and future. It deals with misfortune, prejudice, the struggle for self-preservation, the capacity for self-destruction, aspirations, despair and hope.

The stark set, on different levels, gives a constant sense of movement. The use of the car park outside is inspired. Particularly as the scene is illuminated by the lights of the hostel above, and hostel residents are able to watch the play from its windows. It is a pity that due to the, as yet, little known venue, the house wasn’t full every night. It should have been. For anyone who longs to see raw, skilled, unpretentious theatre, this is truly a company to follow.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-2
p. 21