The End of History review at St Giles-in-the-Fields, London – ‘slight and meandering’
St Giles-in-the-Fields holds the honour of being one of very few things that have stayed the same in Soho over the past several hundred years.
The church’s history dates back to the early 12th century, but it’s best known as a local focal point slap-bang in the middle of the London slums William Hogarth documented. More recently, it’s witnessed the swapping of gin shops for Crossrail and extensive gentrification.
High Hearted Theatre takes the history of the church and surrounding area as the starting point for this site-specific work. Marcelo Dos Santos’ text combines it with the stories of Paul (Chris Polick) and Wendy (Sarah Malin), two characters handily selected to represent polar-opposite Londoners.
The idea is that the pair serendipitously meet when both, in their own ways, are seeking sanctuary in the church: Paul as he awaits the results of a sexual health check and Wendy as she plans her next move after becoming homeless.
Polick plays Paul as the archetypal posh Tory boy, whose vices range from Grindr to an excess of protein shakes. He weaves between the congregation presenting a sales pitch on the history of St Giles, whilst Malin’s Wendy forgets the bleeding heart liberal act and throws death stares at him.
The problem is that all the focus is on clichéd backstories and not on a coherent forward-moving plot. The insights into the changing city and inequality are limited, and the symbolism laboured. It’s a play that doesn’t match up to its fascinating venue.