London, But Probably Not As You Know It: Sketching At Wilton's Music Hall

Sketching, Wilton's Music Hall ★★★☆☆

London, But Probably Not As You Know It: Sketching At Wilton's Music Hall Sketching, Wilton's Music Hall 3
Sketching at Wilton's Music Hall theatre review
Photo: Simon Annand

How do you depict something as vast and nebulous as modern London? Charles Dickens nailed it for Victorian times with character driven portraits in his ‘Sketches by Boz’. This multi-writer, co-operative, concept piece tries to echo Dickens  but sadly, flails somewhat. This might be London but probably not as you know it. James Graham (writer and dramaturge) has a well-earned reputation for making seemingly dull stories (coalition governments, quiz show cheats and the Labour Party) into fascinating and pertinent theatre pieces. Here, he takes a fascinating subject and has made mediocre theatre.

Sketching at Wilton's Music Hall theatre review
Photo: Simon Annand

It’s well acted with the cast convincingly taking on multiple parts but is a frustrating watch at times with intercut stories ebbing and flowing and never quite gaining much dramatic momentum. The characters feel over blown with a lack of edge and the jokes crash more than they land. Think Radio 4 teatime twee rather than innovative fringe work. Where it finds its feet is with the gentler, more human and less fantastic characters such as the recently separated couple meeting up again. The effects are well chosen with a constantly changing back projection of crudely drawn maps and landmarks that are a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, this experiment in theatre hasn’t quite ignited.

Sketching at Wilton's Music Hall theatre review
Photo: Simon Annand

Sketching, Wilton's Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, E1 8JB. Tickets £7-£35, until 27 October 2018.

Last Updated 05 October 2018