Old Fire Station, 10th April 2015
You may have heard of this one. First preformed at the West Oxford Community Association last June to celebrate our city “as the home of Radical Thinking”; it sold out. It was put together like this: Oxford people who had made a stand for something they believed in were interviewed by writer/director Chris Goode. He recorded their stories, Studs Terkel style, and then wove their words together into this marvellous show.
There are six characters who explain a bit about themselves and their family backgrounds and then get into how and why they got into making their own stand. One protested about Cuadrilla’s desire to frack for fuel by super-gluing herself and her friends to the foyer of the company’s PR firm; Albert from Witney is a member of SPEAK, the anti-vivisectionists who stand in protest in the South Parks Road every Thursday; another led a passionate campaign against the excesses of the Jericho boat yard planners, and so on. They were all lit up by their successes, such as the student who was part of a guerrilla theatre group, dramatically drawing attention to negative aspects of BP’s sponsorship of the RSC, and the woman so proud of her adopted daughter, who turns out to be one who stands up for the unfortunate in our society.
This then is about people who have the courage to confront difficult issues, and in hearing about them we are encouraged to “be part of the conversation”. STAND is entertaining, yes, but it also makes you think.
Michael Fenton Stevens, Kelda Holmes, Spencer Brown, Gwyneth Strong, Cathy Tyson and Lawrence Werber are very talented and experienced actors, and all deliver the words as though they were just their own. Chris Goode and his production team succeed, within a deceptively simple setting, in challenging us to address afresh somewhat clichéd global issues about sustainable futures, equitable living all, environmental harm, community building, and how to improve our lives in the face of corporate greed and corruption.
It is amusing, interesting, thought-provoking and conscience-prodding; it is an excellent piece of real theatre, richly deserving to be brought to a wider audience.