Published: 14/05/2017 09:00 - Updated: 12/05/2017 15:31

No camp involved with caravan play

Written byKyle Walker

Mobile, created by The PaperBirds, comes to Eden Court from Wednesday. Picture: Richard Davenport
Mobile, created by The Paper Birds, comes to Eden Court from Wednesday. Picture: Richard Davenport

Fitting an entire theatrical production inside the confines of a small caravan sounds like an impossible task.

But for Kylie Perry, the co-director of ambitious new play Mobile, that’s the whole point of the piece.

“The caravan symbolised for us long ago holidays and nostalgic memories of family,” she explained. “We wanted to use the intimacy of such a small space to be able to explore things theatrically that could never work on a stage.

“It was the proximity of the audience to the performer and the immersive aspect that enticed us.”

And it will be that intimacy that Kylie hopes will give the play its power when Mobile rolls into town.

The caravan – set up on the lawn of Eden Court every night from Wednesday, May 17 until Sunday, May 21 (except Friday, where it’ll be outside the Inverness Botanic Gardens) – will play host to multiple performances per day of a show that looks to explore and understand the idea of social mobility in modern Britain.

And the humble mobile holiday home is the perfect place for these themes to play out, according to Kylie. “The caravan itself has experienced social mobility,” she said. “100 years ago the caravan was an affluent symbol, and since then it has both risen and declined in popularity.

“In particular it now represents a ‘working class’ holiday – and the complexity of this shift seemed to fit perfectly with the subject we were exploring.”

Yet despite the setting’s appropriateness in terms of the production’s themes, the small space has practical concerns too. “The challenges certainly include how you can use the space – there’s not a lot of room, especially when the caravan is at capacity!

“We had to be really inventive with the way we transformed the space with technology and AV design.

“It also limits the capacity for cast members/actors – we found creative ways of including as many voices and stories as possible despite only using one actor.

However, having your entire stage on wheels does offer one big advantage. “The best thing is that we don’t need to rig and focus all the lights at each new venue we tour to – as they are all in position already!”

The production is performed entirely within a caravan, exploring the themes of social mobility.
The production is performed entirely within a caravan, exploring the themes of social mobility.

The play’s topic is certainly a timely issue to explore. Mobile comes to Inverness sandwiched between two elections for the city – the council elections having just passed on Thursday, May 4 and the snap general election still to come.

Both votes are being held against a backdrop of massive social upheaval for the country – with Brexit and the spectre of a second independence referendum for Scotland.

And inside that cramped caravan, a timely message is offered. “The main political strand that evolves throughout the piece relates to the notion of fairness,” Kylie explained, “and in how our culture lays out the promise of a fair and just society for all where we are free to prosper and rise.

“But as is experienced by our character Cindy, those who do not start with financial advantage are very rarely rewarded with the same level of upward mobility as it would seem.”

And it is that message about the veneer of mobility that Kylie hopes people take away from Mobile. “We hope that people come away with a new found appreciation for all that their family and upbringing involved, that they leave the caravan thinking about class and how social structure relates to them.

“We hope that they identify with not one, but several of the characters they meet along the way – and, above all else, that they are wowed by the technical wizardry installed into the humble interior of a family caravan!”

Thankfully for Kylie, that message seems to be getting across to audiences who have previously experienced the play. “The show is always received with positive reactions – being so close to the audience and sharing the enclosed space means that audience experience is always clearly obvious.

“Most people experience a reflective and emotional engagement with the issues and themes and often this is characterised by shedding a few tears!

“But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are plenty of laughs along the way!”

Mobile comes to Eden Court – via caravan – on Wednesday, May 17 until Sunday, May 21 (except Friday, where it moves to the Botanic Gardens), with multiple performances per day. For full details or to book tickets, go to www.eden-court.co.uk

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