Written by Emma Dennis-Edwards, Abi Zakarian and Jessica Butcher
Directed by Yasmeen Arden
Rolling up to deliver big heart, Small Time Theatre presents their micro plays as a part of their Digital Caravan Theatre. A series of audio plays, ranging in emotions, inspirations and method all tell unique experiences and thought processes which share one thing in common: heart. From the busy streets of the Notting Hill Carnival to the streets where the riches of ages are stored on Portobello Road, The Digital Caravan flings the doors open wide to share personal micro theatre with the nation.
Miraculously capturing the carnival spirit, Emma Dennis-Edward’s writing breathes life into words, provoking the senses into painting the canvas for her. To emulate smells, sounds and tastes is no easy task in audio dramas, and Spirit of Carnival invites you deep into the heart of Europe’s largest street festival with all the aromas, sensations, and spectacles it can conjure.
Writing is one thing, but Danielle Vitalis’ multifaceted performance, which weaves itself effortlessly with the poetic language, enhances the entire scope and feel of the production. Delicate, yet powerful, Vitalis’ rhythmic delivery drifts the audience through the streets of Notting Hill, capturing not only the tone, but the dangers of an unfamiliar police force and systematic prejudices. When Nicola Chang’s sound design, so full of live and vigour, drops suddenly as the talk of crimson streets and politics ripples out, Dennis-Edward’s exceptional ability of storytelling emerges.
Olive has the best trees in London, she’s proud of this, and Olive is a woman who everyone in the street knows by name. Our second play, Enough from Abi Zakarian proffers the concept that just once a day, smile, but don’t plan it or think, just let it flow. A genuine, spritely reading from Lilly Driscoll, Enough takes a delightful stroll down Portobello Road, and the love story between Olive and the street she lives on.
Where Enough stands apart from what it seems, is Zakarian’s acknowledgment of the street’s past, and that though now the vendors, singers and buyers of Portobello are as colourful, diverse, and eccentric as possible, this hasn’t always been the case. Tackling the area’s history with slavery, Driscoll injects a pang of knowing into her performance and while slightly less refined in its writing style, it is by no means less effective with its emotion or poetry.
They’re fast approaching, September Skies, but before they do Jessica Butcher approaches the futures of young listeners and stokes their imaginations with a with a tale of growing up, finding your way and realising that quite often, the paths laid out for us may not be the ones we’re destined to take.
Playful, Safiyya Ingar’s characterisation of Kite takes flight with ease, though her tone does aim for the younger crowds more often than not. In way of sound design, the production offers little outside of the reading, save for occasional world-building numbers and additional moments of composition.
Individually, some productions garner more merit than others, but the collective does share similarities beyond their audio media. There’s a profoundly personal stamp on each production from their creative teams which speaks volumes to the intentions and capabilities of all involved. Spirit of Carnival may be the standout feature, but both Enough and September Skies speak to audiences across various demographics to drive an inclusive series of productions.
Available to listen here
Review originally published for The Review Hub