Sheltered

New company Bellyfeelhave collaborated with Crisis, a charity for the homeless,to develop a series of monologues that illustrate the tough and varied experiences of those living without a permanent home. People entering the auditorium are handed a coin and told to place it in a cup of our choice. This choice will define the rest of the show: it dictates which four monologues we see and in what order. This power is dramatically cut against the relative powerlessness of the homeless. Their choices, we are told in the opening monologue, led them to homelessness. But they wouldn’t choose it. It’s a powerful statement to begin the show with, and a nice way to set up what proves to be a thought-provoking and slick performance.

Though the scripts could do with some more light and shade, at moments veering into moralising or cliché, the overall effect is poignant

The monologues hang together thematically, showing a number of different issues and experiences of homelessness. As well as contrasting experiences, Bellyfeelalso present contrasting styles. One of the monologues, performed by Lucy Ireland, is simple and naturalistic: storytelling at its most stripped back. Lighting guides us through sunrise to sunset, with details such as a slow pulsing blue light placing us on the street outside. Faint sounds of a busy road can be heard. It’s very atmospheric, and Ireland gives an engaging and nuanced performance.

The other monologues are more stylised, twice using small ensembles to aid the storytelling with physical movement. Esme Lees’ monologue about losing her child includes elements of physical theatre, and is executed beautifully. Roisin Sheridan’s monologue, in particular, is incredibly powerful as she physically embodies the struggle of a young woman who is constantly abused by the men in her life. Three hooded figures sit behind her, mirroring her movement like three snake charmers: a constant threat to her safety on the streets. A third, delivered by Carla Addyman, mixes stylised movement with a highly conversational script.

The monologues are both conversational and at times poetic, and show a great range of talent and technique. Though each performer has created a monologue that is its own piece in its own right, Bellyfeel’s collaborative process results in a curated programme of performances that, in any order, thread together beautifully and contrast without jarring.

The collaborative and ever-evolving style of the show is well thought-out. Though the scripts could do with some more light and shade, at moments veering into moralising or cliché, the overall effect is poignant. This is a simple but very effective show that comes doubly recommended. Go and see it, and then go and see it again. After all, it’s different each time.

Reviews by Ellie Coote

Paradise in Augustines

Penetrating Europe, or Migrants Have Talent

★★
Assembly Hall

How is Uncle John?

★★★
C venues - C

Playing Soldiers

★★
C venues - C

All Might Seem Good

★★★
Paradise in The Vault

Sheltered

★★★★
Liquid Room Annexe

Strictly Come Trancing

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Homelessness: an inescapable reality of the modern world. An issue that is too close to home for far too many. But the path to the streets isn’t always as concrete as it seems. What makes you immune? You choose who performs, you choose which voices are heard. Come find shelter and hear our stories.

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