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WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE – Finborough Theatre, London.

Gary-Beadle-Paddy-Navin-Matt-Whitchurch-and-Daniel-York-in-We-Know-Where-You-Live-Cr-Alex-Fine-700x455“Gentrification” is a word that inevitably crops up in any conversation about the London property market. Affluent young upstarts move into an up-and-coming area, and before you know it, it’s all beards, cereal cafés and free-range quinoa. But what of the people who’ve been there since they were born? We Know Where You Live aims to examine the culture clash between the long-term residents who are desperate for regeneration, and the new arrivals who want to preserve its edgy urban feel for posterity (and have a cereal café) – and it mostly succeeds.

The play is a little chaotic, zipping about between a young couple who are just getting their first shoebox flat together and the fractious relations between what’s left of the Residents Association, all affected by some strange and ominous goings-on in the local area. While there are a few revelations about the history of the people, none of them quite feel like the monumental bombshells that they were perhaps meant to be.

The play does however take a good hard look at the microcosm of a community that is barely clinging on by its fingernails in the face of surreptitious social cleansing, and it does this very well. Gary Beadle (best known as Paul Trueman in Eastenders) plays the officiously straight-laced socialist Roy, who delivers some cracking one-liners with panache, bringing even the most heated debate to a juddering halt – a real masterclass in less-is-more characterisation. Paddy Navin makes for a very prickly and passive aggressive Mary, and she really keeps you guessing about her true agenda for the place. Daniel York brings a lot of complexity to the irascible Keith, a man who has struggled with life after leaving the armed forces and has a real vulnerability underneath all the bravado. There is an interesting dynamic as the cantankerous trio have long grown sick of each other, but cannot face the abject loneliness of life without their company.

The latest arrivals who have come laden with boxes “to claim the city for their own” are the perky Asma (Ritu Arya) and sensible intern Ben (Matt Whitchurch) who try to run rings around the odious Estate Agent (Ross Hatt), calling his bluff on the snappy slogans and property spiel. But the cracks in their relationship slowly start to appear as the reality of life in London is a long way from the dream. The writing does a J.B. Priestley and brings itself neatly back to a diversion on the beginning, but it does feel like we’re missing a vital piece of the plot for the ‘twist’ to have full impact.

A pertinent piece about the contentious issue of old versus new, and who gets to decide what’s best for London.

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Reviewed 03/08/2015

By Gail Bishop

2nd – 18th August 2015
Finborough Theatre, London, SW10 9ED. 

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