All ages are encouraged to discover the hidden treasures of Battersea’s historic past in Battersea Arts Centre’s three-part performance ‘The Good Neighbour’. From an interactive hunt through BAC’s Victorian town hall to a guided walk outside on the city streets, this is a theatrical opportunity to create, imagine and indulge in adventure aimed at the whole family.
We’re initially split into three groups, who gather together to share a drink and listen to the story of George Neighbour, a man whose name proudly sits on a plaque in the foyer. Everyone is then sent off in different directions with a mission to discover Neighbour’s past and find out about other heroes from the local community. The Early Investigators (recommended ages 5 and under) are directed to an animated play environment called the Bees Knees; The Young Adventurers (ages 6-12) are given clues that will lead them through secret passageways inside the old building; and The Intrepid Explorers (ages 13+) are whisked outside accompanied by a brass band.
We joined the Young Adventurers, a title we all took with utmost seriousness. Together with our guide, kindly provided by the theatre, we navigated our way through mysterious spaces including a tiny room sitting atop a staircase and a meeting room tucked away in the basement. Each space contained wondrously crafted sets, music and characters (our favourites being the quirky ‘Exploding Room’ and the poignant ‘Momentarium’), along with clues that revealed answers to our puzzle – exactly what happened to George Neighbour?
The show finishes with all groups again reuniting, and the chance to share the experiences gathered along their respective journeys. The consensus was unanimous — the magical adventure combined with an exploration of local history was unique and something that we’d highly recommend to others.
Developed from an original idea by Sarah Golding, Associate Artistic Director of BAC, and Ruth Dudman, the multi-layered show is a collaboration with both individual artists as well as local primary schools and youth organisations. This tie to the community is evident as each of the pieces felt independent in thought and deeply considered.
Just who was George Neighbour? We encourage you to find out in this highly entertaining and imaginative series of performances and treasure hunts. It’s a thrill-ride, whatever age you may be.
Running until November 4, Tickets £8, except under 5 and unders and accompanying adults are free. Meals are available one hour before each show, £7 for adults, £3 for children.
By Tiffany Pritchard