Show 122 from experimental performance collective People Show was a promenade performance around Battersea Park culminating in a caper around the Victorian Pump House.
A set of 'guides' lead us around the gardens and past the lake to the Pump House - the building once used to water the park's flowers and power its fountains - regaling us with historical facts and folklore, all delightfully slapstick and peppered with clandestine self-mockery. Further along, outright silly yet somehow creepy, a small army of ghosts surrounded us, a harbinger of further spectral encounters yet to come.
People Show worked with local residents and community groups to collect stories of Battersea Park, which were shared in fragments by students from Roehampton University and ALRA during the performance. Their group, as unruly 'caterers', created havoc throughout the proceedings, much to the annoyance of the 'guides'. Smoking, gossiping on the phone, and food-fighting one minute, blank-faced, robotic, and unnerving the next, they relayed story snippets like zombies as we entered the Pump House Gallery. Later on, they animatedly transposed tales of first boyfriends and park life onto a large photograph, competing for the audience's attention.
An audio link-up produced more comic confusion, as two 'guides' in separate rooms pretentiously described identical photographs. A poignant moment followed, as another 'guide' reminisced about wartime and royal weddings, looking deep into her memory, negating the need for photographic images.
The pièce de résistance, however, was the human water fountain. Getting spat at never was quite so lovely, as a gaggle of girls frolicked about, spurting water from their mouths in increasingly imaginative ways.
If you missed out on the Pump House Project, don't miss the climax of Wandsworth Arts Festival: The Shimmy, which takes place on Sunday 22 May runs from 1pm to 5pm along the Thames from Putney Wharf, along Deodar Road and into Wandsworth Park. Watch out for hundreds of origami butterflies pointing the way to an afternoon of performance, installations and workshops.
The Pump House Project was developed for Wandsworth Arts Festival which continues until Sunday 22 May.