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Next Door at The Cockpit Theatre

Published 24 August 2010

The Cockpit Theatre isn’t one of London’s best known, and it doesn’t come with West End glitz, but if the standard of performance of Next Door is anything to go by, it ought to be a must-visit destination. The inconspicuous theatre on the outskirts of Marylebone has a history dating back to 1969 when it was created by the Inner London Education Authority as a community theatre. It is now owned by Westminster City Council and run as part of the City of Westminster College.

Next Door is exemplary of the kind of show the theatre hosts, albeit a particularly brilliant example. It is the latest creation from FAITH drama productions, which is a not-for-profit organisation made up of young, up-and-coming creative talents given the opportunity to develop through specially arranged training, work-experience and masterclasses.

Next Door is excitingly billed as a, “fearless new drama fusing parkour and physical theatre that paves the way for a new generation of theatre” and with a story that explores the concepts of family, compassion, dependency, race and human trafficking. It’s hard to imagine how such a wide-ranging play will unfold, but it’s certainly no disappointment.

The Cockpit’s intimate round theatre is the perfect setting for a physically dramatic show which sees parkour (the art of movement, similar to free-running) fused with dance to exhilarating effect – there’s literally not a wall that isn’t scaled throughout the course of the play. Though the movement could well be a show in itself, the play certainly isn’t lacking in narrative. Two suburban families take centre stage. The main is a mixed race family with children from separate marriages, one of whom is disabled following a childhood accident. As the story unravels, it appears that they have plenty of secrets, but that their apparently respectable neighbours may be hiding much worse. Son Mo’s vivid daydreams (performed in parkour) reference slavery and human trafficking – they are initially dismissed as nonsense until a series of events point to their relevance and build to a dramatic climax.

The play intelligently addresses numerous pertinent issues along the way, but never feels worthy or forced. A dark sense of humour keeps things light-hearted, whilst both narrative and performance keep the adrenaline pumping throughout.

Next Door is on until Saturday 28th August and is definitely not to be missed. At only £10 a ticket, it is also a complete bargain given that what you’re getting is two and a half hours of high-action performance art with a fantastic narrative thrown in for good measure. Tickets can be booked online at http://faithdrama.ticketsource.co.uk/ and you can find out more about the show (and watch a trailer) on their website.

FAITH drama productions are also on Facebook and Twitter.

The Cockpit Theatre
Address: Gateforth Street, London, NW8 8EH
Booking/enquiry phone: 020 7258 2925
Nearest tube station: Edgware Road (Bakerloo line station is closest)
Official website: http://cockpittheatre.org.uk/

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