The Capital review at Birmingham Repertory Theatre – ‘ambitious and cinematic’
Performed on two seven-metre travelators, Stan’s Cafe’s latest show is as boldly conceived as we’ve come to expect from Birmingham’s much-loved experimental company.
In The Capital, five actors play around a hundred characters, sharing the streets of a city which could be Birmingham or any European metropolis where bankers, immigrants, artists, the homeless and thousands more walk next to, and past, each other.
Extending the visual language of their 2007 show The Cleansing of Constance Brown, this piece is a non-stop parade of wordless scenes. Characters glide by in cinematic fashion, glimpsed for all of 10 seconds, or are picked out of the crowd and followed through their days.
Like the relentless drive of capitalism, the travelators force the actors to keep going and keep up. They respond differently to characters wedged apart by deep-seated economic and social inequality – a woman of colour at the bottom of the career ladder has to run and dodge obstacles in order to keep up with her boss; and she, in turn, with her’s.
It’s beautifully choreographed by director James Yarker, with the variable speeds of the travelators and a thumping electronic score by Nina West generating enough dynamic variation to sustain the show’s concept over a hefty 90 minutes: a masterclass in composition and flow.
Coordinating countless set items and costume changes, stage manager Jude Malcolmson is the production’s unseen sixth actor – with flawless musicality she powers this constructed cityscape, her work revealed at the last minute with a simple but startling coup.