Down and Out in Paris and London by New Diorama Theatre at Pleasance Courtyard

Inspired by the memoirs of George Orwell and Polly Toynbee’s ‘Hard Work’ this is a very interesting piece of social commentary theatre that highlights the similarity of poverty that existed in the past and still exists today.

Combining these two works, the writer and co-director David Byrne has made a unified piece of theatre, effortlessly joining the experiences of George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair with those of Guardian journalist, Polly Toynbee.

The play shifts backwards and forwards between Paris in the 1930s and modern day London, as Orwell recounts his time living on the breadline in Paris and Polly recounts her exploration into living on the minimum wage in London. The action seamlessly moves between these two tales with a lot of help from a swinging pair of double doors. A good group of actors have pulled together this work from New Diorama Theatre, and all the performances are extremely accomplished.

Overall the work is very engaging and successful. We are left feeling that many of the problems are the same and therefore much is still left to be done in order to correct the situation. As the programme says, “We haven’t come as far as we think.”

Great production based on two very important pieces of writing. Well Done New Diorama Theatre!

Highlight of the show (London) – Polly trying to understand the concept of signing up for an agency that could, but might not, provide her with work despite it going against her EU workers’ rights.

Highlight of the show (Paris) – Boris longing for sleep so he won’t have to walk, then bettering it by wishing instead to be dead so he would never have to walk ever again.

4/5 WIGS

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