Down & Out In London & Paris

Two of the finest books about poverty are George Orwell’s 1933 memoir Down And Out In London And Paris and Polly Toynbee’s 2003 Hard Work, so it was only a matter of time before someone stuck them together in play form. That person was David Byrne and his production for New Diorama at Greenwich Theatre was simply brilliant. The moral of the story is that little has changed on the breadline since Orwell’s day. But an excellent script and a great cast, particularly Richard Delaney, Karen Ascoe and Andy McLeod, meant the misery was never unbearable. And the staging was magical, with the action switching between time-frames, sometimes in mid-sentence and often thanks to an ingenious bed with a hidden compartment. Theatre like this deserves the widest possible audience.

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