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Cardboard Citizens: Bystanders 3*** - One4Review

Cardboard Citizens: Bystanders 3***

| On 17, Aug 2019

The latest show from Cardboard Citizens tells recent accounts of homeless people who have been victims of abuse and neglect, in many cases with fatal consequences.

Most are high profile stories which have made the news. Including the plight of Vernon Vanriel, the British boxer stuck in Jamaica in the Windrush scandal, and Dawn Sturgess, victim of the Salisbury Novichok poisoning. Only Vanriel’s story is told first-hand, the other stories are told by perpetrators and bystanders. At the top of the show we’re told the work is a piece of intelligent transcription, imagined and invented scenes based on factual events with verbatim bits. The attention to accuracy and the sensitivity to the subject matter is to be applauded, but it does feel like the subjects become voiceless all over again in the telling.

The stories are very engaging and the performers slip easily from character to character. There is inspired use of live video replay to create a nightclub in Benidorm and footage of victims is used movingly. There are too many scenes with the ‘two white men’ Alexander Petrov and Ruslin Boshirov, who are unimaginatively realised and which don’t tell us anything new or incisive.

The show ends with a rousing call to action and a rather frustrating assertion that; they could’ve made a show telling the stories of the everyday endurances of the homeless population, but it wouldn’t have made interesting enough theatre. I think that’s a real underestimation of what great theatre can be and unfair judgement of what audiences will engage with. This is a heart breaking watch, but I don’t think the most accomplished theatre making. There is a campaign of positive action called ‘I’m not a bystander’ running alongside the show that I would urge everyone to engage with. Whether you see the show or not, get involved at –

Reviewed by Sarah
Summerhall-Tech Cube 0
11.30 (1hr)
Until 25th (not 19th)

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