Croydonites Festival 2017 review: Letters to Windsor House, by Sh!t Theatre

By - Tuesday 21st March, 2017

Pillar box women, adult babies and a giant truss – it’s just another show at the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre

Photo by Sh!t Theatre, used with permission.

When I woke this morning, I felt like I’d just had a night out at Edinburgh Festival. But no… it was the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre. There was the excitement of the walk into town with Mrs Mac to see an unknown show. Where shall we get a quick bite to eat? Have we got time for a quick bite to eat? Can we get a drink?

The magnificent Croydon Council Chamber was the venue for Friday evening’s sell out performance of Letters to Windsor House by Sh!t Theatre. The truss, which we were later to help deconstruct, stretched the width of the chamber. The stage had a number of eco-friendly archive boxes, a two-seater sofa and on the sofa, two women singing along to ‘Alone’ by Heart. I grabbed a front row seat as I’m easily distracted.

A hilarious yet gut-wrenching story told in word and song

Perhaps we more long-settled Croydonians don’t experience excessive mail from the previous occupiers of our homes, but when you live in Windsor House in Hackney and you’re uncertain of who truly owns your house, the trail of the property’s past and future are just a paper knife away. So what do you do with the letters that aren’t addressed to anyone who lives there? Return to sender? Recycle, bin, burn or just stuff them away? Louise and Becca wake at 7:00am to hard-core Romanian dance music and when the post arrives, it’s filed in the drawers below their Sh!t Theatre ‘awards shelf’.

Sh!t Theatre delivers a high tempo account of friendship, hardship, aspiration and exploration as the two women survey an ever-changing community both inside and outside their front door. With new properties in the area selling just shy of £1 million and people camping on barren land beneath the UKIP billboard, why are they receiving so much mail for others? And why do they write to each other?

Letters to Windsor House tells a hilarious yet gut-wrenching story of opening these letters and exploring their contents with spoken word and brilliant song. Through evidence of people in debt and excessive baby milk orders, they home in on previous tenant Rob Jecock. Using social media and popular internet search engines, they track down his whereabouts in genuine concern for his welfare – and to establish that he’s not an adult baby. And the truth is not what you might expect.

They communicate with each other via the aperture

Comedy is mixed with the fragile nature of Becca and Louise’s personal relationship. Dressed as pillar boxes, they communicate with each other via the aperture, detailing what they love and hate about each other. The foundations of their shared home are built on the archives of previous tenants and roofed by their open exposure and written honesty towards each other. Hypothetical enquiries to the local authority bring the realisation that the ownership details are a sham. Their home is effectively destroyed.

Wonderfully honest and delivered by a real local, former New Addington resident and Gilbert Scott pupil Louise Mothersole, this show was both a sort of home coming and a warning to change your address details when you move house – or risk being exposed on a national theatre tour!

Ally McKinlay

Ally McKinlay

Ally McKinlay was born in Mayday, raised in Sanderstead and has matured in Waddon-on-Wandle for most of the 21st century. His degree in Human Geography with Urban Studies is testimony to his interests in how people interact with place and he has a keen eye on Croydon developments. Ally has worked with young people in Croydon since 2001 promoting sport and recreation, art and creativity with a particular focus on good food and healthy living. In July 2015 he dreamed up Croydon Saffron Central and has not woken up yet...

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    Absolutely agree Ally, an innovative portrayal of some of the things that you have to deal with when sharing a flat, even (or especially) with a friend. I loved the singing …… you know the way you get a tune stuck in your head? Well, the ‘Rob Jecock’ one is hanging around at the moment …..

    Great fun, hope they come back next year. Thank God we have local people with the know-how and enthusiasm to organise events like this. More please :-)