London theatre is rich indeed. Apart from the big subsidised companies and the commercial West End, there's also a thriving and sometimes ground breaking fringe scene played out in rooms above pubs, cellars underground, temporary tents and the public spaces in Covent Garden and the South Bank.
There's no money here, but plenty of talent and often the shows give up and coming practitioners the chance to prove their invention and technique without having a production budget to hide behind or a box office return to protect. Hawk eyed producers, casting agents and directors occasionally come and watch in the hope of discovering a new idea or flavour. It's a breeding ground for future development, kept alive by some bloody minded acts of determination and sacrifice.
This afternoon I went to catch my friend Kris in an ambitious interpretation of John Ford's bloody Caroline revenge drama Tis a Pity She's a Whore! at the thirty five seat, White Bear Theatre in Kennington. It's really hard to manipulate a cast of fifteen on a stage the size of a postage stamp without over imposed mannerisms, and inevitably the quality in casting was uneven, but up and coming director, Joanna Turner, got terrific performances from Alan Mirren and Siobhan McMillan as the incestuous siblings Giovanni and Annabella.
It was great to see the play at such close quarters. A kind of rough cut Romeo and Juliet - no punches pulled, blood, forbidden desire, ripped out hearts and hell fire. Crazy to try and get away with it in such a tiny space but it reminded me that the best projects come out of passion and personality, not pragmatic consideration or safe return.