- Created on 29 November 2015
Regeneration comes to theatre as 49 Tanner Street hosts a reading of 'Skyline'.
Last night was the first rehearsed reading of 'Skyline', a new play by David Bottomley, which looks at 'regeneration' and gentrification in London. Before the reading itself, however, there was a short discussion with two guest speakers, Sian Berry (Green Party councillor in Camden and GP Mayoral candidate) and Leo Pollak (Labour Party councillor in Southwark).
The discussion itself was quite entertaining too, as any one Southwark Labour Councillor in a wider context (as in surrounded by real people/non Labour Councillors) is bound to stick out a mile. Sian Berry mentioned the ongoing concern about London councils demolishing council estates, about keyworkers being moved further and further out of the centre, while Leo Pollak said Southwark was building '11,000 new council homes in next 30 years, 1,500 by end of 2016'. We briefly challenged this by mentioning the huge loss of council housing (1,100 homes on the Heygate, 2,000+ on the Aylesbury, etc). Leo Pollak quoted £800 a month as a great rent for new homes only to be told by another audience member, a woman in employment, that she, and many other locals like her, could not actually afford that. You get the drift.
'Skyline' opens with Francesca and Jason, a politician and a developer eyeing our city and/or their playfield from a 30th floor loft. 'Glass pricks' is what Francesca sees at the beginning, but gets to change her view as the story unfolds. Francesca and Jason fuck each other. For favours.
Rex and Tanya live on a Hackney estate which is up for demolition. Rex and Tanya are real people, with real lives and stories and emotions and hopes.
Roxanne is a Soho drag queen, one of the rapidly disappearing tribe. Her story, inextricable from that of Soho, is only too familiar as well.
It was impossible to not recognise Rex, Tanya and Roxanne and to not identify with them, as all see themselves clearly as Londoners and people who care what happens on their block or on their street. People who love it that London is alive, and imperfect, where different or 'deviant' is part of it being alive.
There is nothing endearing about Francesca or Jason. Francesca has brief flashes of humanity but decidedly does not act on them. Jason does not and his essence is perhaps best summed up in quick exchange with Francesca, when she says, 'People will think you're a corrupt developer' to which he replies, 'Is there any other kind?'
In the closing speech, Roxanne talks of rats scuttling down pipes and sewers until they find another place to settle down, which made that chasm between money on one side and every-one and every-thing else on the other even wider.
Anyone standing in the way of making more and more and more money is vermin.
The second reading of 'Skyline' is tonight, and we recommend you go and see it if you can.