It’s easy to see how the biblical account of Babel can inspire writers, with its theme of a united humanity that’s bound by a single language, vision, journey – and put in the context of a multicultural city like London, the idea of this utopia can really get you thinking. Many people from all walks of life live in the capital, but what does it take for us to be truly connected with one another? And if, so, what would that look like? This collaborative production with BAC, World Stages London, Young Vic, Wildworks, Lyric and Theatre Royal Stratford East sets out to explore this question and more, with an ambitious and incredible set-up in Caledonian Park.
There’s a diverse cast of nearly 500 brilliant (and many non-pro) actors and they mix with the audience, whether on the ominous path into the park or within the grounds where you might spot a male Indian dancer delightfully present a folk piece or listen to a laddish security guard pay homage to his town through spoken word. All the while, there’s mysterious bell ringers dressed in Middle Eastern garb crying “it’s time to build a new city” as the “security” storm around watchfully – but it’s not clear exactly what’s going on until midway into the show and you understand the significance of “The Tower” in bringing the people together once again. It’s just a shame that at times, the storyline is a bit confusing to follow (which could be due to sound issues or the sheer vastness of the park, as where you stand depends on what you pick you up), but for the most part, the visuals, characters and music all make quite an impact. So for an alternative theatre experience where the takeaway will have you appreciating the cultural uniqueness of London that’ll little bit more, Babel’s the ticket (just remember to dress up warm!) (Words: Matilda Egere-Cooper)
On until May 20th. For more info, visit www.babellondon.com