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The Room in the Elephant (Bristol)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Tom Wainwright's new play tells the tale of Titus Coventry, a native LA-er and failed actor, who lived in a water tanker until last spring. When graffiti artist Banksy wrote on the outside, "THIS LOOKS A BIT LIKE AN ELEPHANT" (the unmentionable elephant being homelessness and poverty amidst such wealth), the tanker becomes bankable Art. With horrible irony, Titus is swiftly evicted by the art's new corporate owners. But today, he is back.

The first of the Tobacco Factory’s collaborations this season with Glasgow’s Òran Mór (a pie and pint are part of the ticket price), Bristol writer Wainwright’s piece is thought-provoking, emotional and very enjoyable.

Gary Beadle’s excellent Titus is warm and winning, a good and highly likable man who is perhaps just a little too flawless. The high peaks of his love of the glamour of Tinseltown and the art of movie-making are darkly mirrored by the troughs of his own poverty, despair and humanity.

Emma Callander and Emily Reutlinger’s direction delivers a pacy 50 minutes, high on emotion and deft at handling Wainwright’s trickier, self-referential pokes at the issue: if Banksy was (ir)responsible for turning this man’s life into art, then what about this “Mr Tom Wainwright”? Whose story is it, when Titus tells Wainwright he’s just “the human cure for your writer’s block”?

This makes for a highly enjoyable lunchtime show, giving good, chewy matter for mind and belly.


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