Review: The Grenfell Project at The Hope Theatre

Seven graduates from Kent's University of the Creative Arts are behind The Grenfell Project. Picture

Seven graduates from Kent's University of the Creative Arts are behind The Grenfell Project. Picture: James Taylor. - Credit: Archant

Now on at Upper Street’s Hope Theatre, The Grenfell Project brings the hurt of that fateful night in June 2017 to the fore.

The cast from The Grenfell Project. Picture: Gianluca Zona.

The cast from The Grenfell Project. Picture: Gianluca Zona. - Credit: Archant

It is astonishing to realise that the second anniversary of the horrific Grenfell fire comes round in June.

The catastrophe that took the lives of at least 72 people has quietly been pushed off the front pages, the inside pages and anywhere else by the great, all-consuming-monster that is Brexit.

The Grenfell Project comes as a reminder that for many people (the survivors, the responders, the families and the people of north Kensington) this is still a live issue and an indelible scar on the local community and the wider polity of the United Kingdom.

This is not a lavish production. Seven graduates in their early twenties, from Farnham campus of the University of the Creative Arts, felt impelled to write, design and produce this 60 minutes of committed theatre.

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It is theatre in the round: at one end of the performance space hangs a grim painting of the charred block; at the other a multi-function whiteboard/memorial. Much of the dialogue (and this is where so much of the power of the piece emanates) is based on the rawness and authenticity of interviews with tenants and others.

There is a clear chronology. The pre-fire community is brought to life making plans and doing stuff. The fire sparks and the LFB responds. Then, the complacency of the council’s immediate response, the poverty of understanding of the government, and the confusion, bewilderment and un-met needs of those most affected. Finally, the mourning, anger and challenge to authority.

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Grenfell Project is physical and incorporates film , poetry and song which, combined, support the seven members of the cast in bringing an authenticity and desire to register anger, challenge and to remind.

This is a powerful and important work and a classic piece of London agitprop theatre. It is not a great play but it is memorable as well as important – something that many productions can only dream of.

3/5 stars

The Grenfell Project continues until March 30. For more details and tickets, click here.

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