Review: Spirit of Carnival, Enough & September Skies, The Digital Caravan Theatre

Spirit of Carnival by Emma Dennis-Edwards and starring Danielle Vitalis is a spoken word piece about Notting Hill Carnival, and is particularly evocative on the first year it hasn’t occurred in 54 years. Vitalis described the people filling the streets ‘from the gate, to the park, to the grove’ wearing ‘red, gold and green’. Vitalis speaks of the rhythms and dips of the carnival, the smells and the sounds. Speaking to us directly she speaks of the history of the Carnival, of Claudia Jones who created it, and of her modern experience; the boy she meets there and her sister by her side. This engaging story is accompanied by full colour footage of moments from Carnival and moments of anthemic music; a beautiful version of ‘How Great Thou Art’ makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck. This piece couples the electric atmosphere of Notting Hill with allusions to Britain’s ‘beautiful green lands’, as described in the quintessentially British hymn ‘Jerusalem’. 

The second piece is Enough by Abi Zakarian. Lilly Driscoll plays ‘Olive, like the garnish’. She keeps us updated on what’s happening in her life: we are a close friend. Her friends Ash and Shana are having a baby, she isn’t meant to be telling people though, it’s a surprise. We ‘need to keep schtum’ she says, she has her eye on godmother. Olive is bubbly and cheeky, and comes out with some snort worthy comments including ‘chia seed pudding looks like snot and tastes like armpit’ – and I think we all agree. Finishing off with a beautiful version of ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ this conversation with a Portobello resident warms your heart and makes you smile. 

Finally, we have September Skies by Jessica Butcher. Our protagonist, played by Saffiya Ingar, is called Kite ‘as in the thing you fly in the sky’. Kite has a loving but casual relationship with her mother, she doesn’t call her mum she ‘calls her Linda’, and they have always had a positive relationship; Linda works hard to support her. We as an audience are transported back to a childhood where her mum served unbelievably shiny apples on a fruit stall. Tales of past haunted school buildings and explorations of nooks and crannies on the site remind me of rumours of ghosts and secret tunnels that filled my Year 3 classroom. I feel lost in dreamlike descriptions of eating quavers whilst flying above the world and seeing the Blackpool Tower, because Bea had been there on holiday. This is a light-hearted snapshot of a childhood bathed in nostalgia and evokes warm feelings of my own. Beautifully written and explored, Butcher has a true talent for bringing the past alive.

The Digital Caravan Theatre is available to watch online from the Caravan Theatre website.