Now in its final week, BABEL, from the creators of the ‘Passion of Port Talbot’ brings together a cast numbered in the hundreds in the unlikely surroundings of London’s Caledonian Park for a spectacle the likes of which the area has never seen…
Starting as the light falls in the early evening, visitors start their journey to BABEL in a circuit of the park’s wooded fringes. Under dim light, the audience walks past as domestic and fantastical scenes are played out – a woman reading in bed, a young man waiting for a dinner date who will never arrive at a table dressed with withered flowers, a girl sitting in a tree knitting while over in a hidden corner a priestess executes an elaborate sword ceremony- all of this accompanied by mysterious figures, shrouded in white, intoning “You are welcome”.
Inexorably drawn into the centre of the park, patrons are then confronted with small stages dotted about where the story continues – a massed choir here, a rapper there, an exotic indian dancer and a host of other entertainments are revealed – even a ‘knitted London’ puts in an appearance. Finally, the action focuses on the tower of BABEL itself where the final scenes are played out under the stern gaze of ‘security’.
BABEL is a dizzying experience – a rich tapestry of sights and sounds. If any criticism can be levelled at this spectactle, the story is very simple – there’s no Holmesian mystery here – but taken together its a uniquely bright and uplifting way to spend an evening out in the fresh air.
BABEL represents the combined efforts of WildWorks, the Battersea Arts Centre, World Stages London with support from the Lyric Hammersmith, the Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Young Vic. Tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime show are £25 (£20 for the unwaged, children, students and older people) and you can pick them up online here, by telephone on 020 72232223, or in person at the box office on the corner of Market Road and Shearling Way on the southeastern corner of Caledonian Park. If you need any further encouragement, you can see the images captured during our visit here.