At some point in most people’s lives, they’ll find themselves playing the crap shoot of living with complete strangers. You hope they’ll be tidy, respectful and ordinary, but somehow you find yourself sharing a kitchen and a bathroom with people you wouldn’t even choose to sit next to on a bus.
Directed by Sarah Redmond, The Worst Little Warehouse in London is a two-person cabaret playing at the Assembly George Square Theatre that deals with this very thing – the delights and despairs of shared accommodation.
Based on a true story, the show stars Lala Barlow and Robbie Smith, a couple who have left their native Australia, reliving through songs, skits and silly voices their experiences of living in a converted warehouse in North London.
This bohemian living arrangement attracts some of society’s more ‘pastel colours’, as Lala puts it, and they end up living with ten colourful other people, all of whom you’ll be introduced to throughout the show. All the characters are played by Barlow and Smith, all whilst accompanying each other on keyboard.
The Worst Little Warehouse in London is a frenetic snapshot of a year in a couple’s lives. The jokes come at you very fast; what works is very funny, especially the affectionately playful outsider perspective on British culture, and anything that doesn’t stick to the wall is easily forgiven by the dynamism and chemistry of the two performers. It’s not easy to keep an audience’s interest in an interrogation into which housemate is responsible for a faecal Jackson Pollock in the bathroom, but the show finds entertainment within the minutiae of flatsharing.
The music may be familiar to you, coming from sources as diverse as Billy Joel and the South Park movie, but the lyrics dazzle with wit. The use of silly props to represent each character is done inventively and reflects the untidy eclectic nature of what I imagine their warehouse was like.
The relationship between the two performers is very sweet and I wish this was explored further; there are a couple of really nice quiet little moments between Lala and Robbie, but there was room for more of an emotional core and I didn’t get to know the two characters as well as I wanted to. Nevertheless, The Worst Little Warehouse in London is a show that, like its inhabitants, is quirky, funny, and stays with you long after you’ve gone.