You’re fucked, whichever way you look at it.
In Letters to Windsor House, Sh!t Theatre create an ode to the fragility of community in a London that looks more like the Hunger Games every day. Windsor House N4 is the home address of Sh!t Theatre- Louise and Becca. This is real and we get a real tour of their real lives, including local landmarks #fishandchips and The Happy Man pub. I feel impotent rage when they show us footage of the new Woodberry Down gated luxury flats complex that lives alongside their decaying, midcentury social housing. The politics here are not only real but desperate. We can only laugh along, bitterly, at the bizarre musak of the Woodberry Down promo video that promises to bring kayaking to N4: “The country in the town” the voice over smoothly explains. Really?? The homeless are still lingering nearby, and these incomers only see what they want to see. I am reminded of Kirsty Allsop on the news last week, rounding on Ken Loach and explaining we shouldn’t attack the rich, as it really isn’t their fault. They are often from unstable countries and they really need to invest their money somewhere…
Sh!t Theatre, troopers that they are, have created a brilliant, unmissable, and important piece of surreal documentary theatre. They go on an almost mythical quest, daubed in their warrior face paint, to recreate a community; the community of their flat in Windsor House. For the ghosts of the past dwell in a drawerful of letters for other people: phantoms of past tenants and their labyrinthian world of unpaid bills, strange subscriptions and dodgy habits. These connections, however tenuous, are at least real, tangible and human. They all shared the same bathroom once. We are all soon as obsessed as they are, urging their investigations into these people on, right behind them, for it somehow offers some hope of some sort of victory.
Sh!t Theatre are very, very funny as they sing, dance, and totally embrace their dysfunctionality for a much greater common cause. They present their gripping tale as 21st century Miss Marples, armed only with Google, and show that some things, at least, never change. Keeping a roof over your head seems to be the greatest challenge of all. And when people move into a new house it’s a chance to reinvent themselves: most of them leave something behind, even if it’s only written demands for debts that mount and mount. Sh!t Theatre make it all feel so epic, so momentous, strumming a folk song about HMRC. But behind the music, the biggest tragedy of all is that we can never truly lay down roots. The more transient we become, the more powerless we are to fight back.
Letters to Windsor House will be on at Summerhall from 5-28 August. More info here.