Review: The Grenfell Project
Image courtesy of the Hope Theatre
A verbatim theatre piece about the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Kensington and Chelsea, one of the most affluent areas in the world, home to designer brands, famous flower shows and intense public carnivals fill the streets.
But it's also home to the biggest wealth divide in Britain.
Pockets of poverty clutter the expensive view from townhouses and cause the council too much trouble to care.
Does a tragedy have to cut through the wealth to see the humanity?
The Grenfell Project sensitively explores how it takes a loss of 72 lives and many more missing for people in London neighbourhoods to be heard.
Through beautiful physical expression, powerful spoken word and fearless verbatim theatre, audiences will experience more than a year on, the raw emotions surrounding the community of Grenfell.
Based on interviews from victims, firefighters, council workers and MPs, we shift through all the fake news and illegitimate claims to present you with the facts of how the residents of Grenfell were outrageously failed.
500 buildings are still covered in the main culprit.
Cladding. As flammable as cardboard, and as cheap.
Help us spread the cause and learn the facts. Support us in raising funds for charities such as Justice For Grenfell and Support 4 Grenfell by taking part in our collection at the end of our shows and telling your friends and family about these charities.
Note: contains strong language.
June 14 2017 - the day that a terrible fire quickly spread through a 24 storey tower block in North Kensington in the affluent Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The tower was home to residents who lived in the 127 flats which comprised the total accommodation in the block.
Breaking out at approximately 1am, the fire needed the skills of hundreds of firefighters and 45 fire engines, yet still took the lives of 72 people.
The fire provoked controversy on several counts especially the flammable nature of cladding which had been used on the external surface of the tower in a prior refurbishment, and the chaotic, insensitive way in which resident survivors were treated in the aftermath.
Given our detailed understanding of technology and materials, it's hard not to conclude that this disaster might have been prevented if sufficient attention and money had been assigned to the safety aspects of the building and its refurbishment.
Moreover, Grenfell also teaches us that, when disasters do strike, we need to be prepared to provide swift, caring and effective support to victims and their families - which was obviously lacking in this terrible incident.
In a statement to the House of Commons on 18 June 2017 the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said there had been a "failure of the state - local and national - to help people when they needed it most".
That makes The Grenfell Project more widely applicable than a mere re-examination of the fire itself, because it points with considerable dramatic efficiency to the wider concept of just what kind of society we have created and what kind we want to have in the future.
It's fitting, then, that the cast of this semi-verbatim piece is comprised of young, highly committed recent graduates, on whom the trajectory of our future society will depend.
Through well-devised movement, song, poetry and verbatim testimony, we're taken through both the tragic events of the fire itself - with desperate firefighters forced to make unenviable, life or death decisions during attempts to rescue residents and to control the inferno - and we're also given a glimpse of the aftermath with justifiably angry residents airing complaints about their post-fire experiences.
Initially, though, we find friends meeting in the street - marking the passing of time by the fire, almost like a milestone in the lives of residents of a community.
Later, we get on to a more chronological examination of events, starting with the fire and then post-fire sequences that detail a catalogue of failures on the part of the authorities and incomprehensibly insensitive treatment of resident survivors emerges.
Rehoused residents evicted at unearthly hours, poor provision of food and counselling, victims in hotel accommodation being denied meals, donations not given out to beneficiaries and state benefits reduced or denied - these are just a few of the appallingly shameful matters we hear about.
Those examples point to a systemic failure to comprehend the suffering of victims and to deal generously and sensitively with their plight in the wake of what must have been a terrifying ordeal exacerbated by heart-breaking, overwhelming loss and bereavement.
Devised by the company, with director Eleanor Crouch ably orchestrating the wide-ranging talents of her strong cast and the multi-layered dramatic components, The Grenfell Project is a moving, sometimes painfully poignant drama as well as being a significant and urgent attestation of the Grenfell Tower tragedy itself.
Moreover, the company include immensely sad and heart-rending descriptions of individuals haunted and tormented by loss, bearing witness to human suffering that also underlines the shocking brutality of failures admitted by the Prime Minister.
The Grenfell disaster is one that should not merely be allowed to drift off the social radar into oblivion and obscurity because it can teach us important lessons, enabling us to make more effective and appropriate decisions in the future.
And The Grenfell Project and its fine young company, deserve considerable praise for the sensitive delivery of factual evidence and the portrayal of emotional consequences, as well as outlining wider considerations that our society must act upon.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
Our show listing for The Grenfell Project
Read our reviews' policy