Documentary drama opens the flood gates

The Caravan, PULSE Festival, New Wolsey Theatre, Friday June 5IT is not often that an evening at the theatre takes place in a cramped caravan where the actors offer you biscuits.

Naomi Cassidy

The Caravan, PULSE Festival, New Wolsey Theatre, Friday June 5

IT is not often that an evening at the theatre takes place in a cramped caravan where the actors offer you biscuits. But this was the setting for The Caravan, an original documentary theatre piece, detailing the human consequences of the severe flooding across the UK in the summer of 2007.

Even a year on, more than 2,000 households, who lost most of their belongings in the tragedy, were still living in caravans and it is some of their stories that are presented to an audience of just eight in the mobile home situated outside The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich.


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Theatre company Look Left Look Right spoke to those affected and the actors performed their stories verbatim. What emerges is a heartbreaking tale of the stress, strains and traumas suffered by those who had their lives turned upside down by the natural disaster.

Many thought it would just be a few weeks living in claustrophobic temporary home, but as the months went on and winter drew in, despair and frustration set in.

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The talented cast of actors, who performed a myriad of accents- representing the affected regions- talked at and engaged with the audience, so that we were personally being told of their plight, making us feel more involved in their lives.

Part sponsored by The Environment Agency, the play really got across the dangers of flooding and how unexpected it can be. Among those in the audience was Richard Houghton, the EA's area flood risk manager in Ipswich.

He said: "I found the play very moving. It is easy to forget the human consequences of flooding. One of our key aims is talking with people, not to people, and understanding their community needs."

The Caravan experienced a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and picked up the Fringe First Award. After its run at the New Wolsey it will be going on tour across the country but returning to Suffolk for the Latitude Festival in July.

If it is a different style of theatre you are looking for, which is both moving and informative, it doesn't get much better than this.

Naomi Cassidy

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