Review: 100% London, Hackney Empire ★★★★

Have you ever shoplifted? Done something you’d rather forget? Saved a life? These are just some of the many questions Rimini Protokoll put to 100 Londoners in their unique survey, drawing a living, moving portrait of our capital city for LIFT 2012. What emerges is a place of contradictions, of openness and prejudice, optimism and apathy, honesty and evasion.

Aiming for a cross section of the population, the 100 participants were recruited in a chain reaction of casting, selected based on factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, creating an extraordinary “body with 100 heads”. To animate this body, Rimini Protokoll both borrow from and subvert the statistics that saturate our lives, asking typical questions about sexuality and political leanings, as well as a wide variety of other, atypical questions, ranging from the banal to the illuminating to the downright bizarre.

100% London most appealing quality is its knowing self-doubt, its constant questioning of own veracity

There are some genuine surprises, with Rimini Protokoll’s unusual method of research eliciting intriguing responses. The risk that this project runs, however, is that of cultivating the same indifference that is felt towards its statistical cousin by similarly overloading its audience with information. Do we really care about how many people own an iPad, or which side of the Thames they live on?

While it may be overlong, there are some deft touches. The large green circle of the set that we see filmed from above hints subtly at the cyclical nature of the life of the city, as does a striking sequence in which the cast busily enact their typical activities at different times of day, simply evoking the noise and motion of the city. But 100% London’s most appealing quality is its knowing self-doubt, its constant questioning of own veracity. Because however revealing the snapshot, it can never be the full picture.

**** 4 stars
Runs until 1st July
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1 Comment

  1. I went to all three performances of this show!

    It was only 90 minutes long so hardly too long. In fact I thought that it could easily have been say 105 minutes long.

    There were some very obvious questions which were never asked like “Who smokes?” or “Who had sex last night?”

    But regardless of what anyone may say about it the fact is that the audiences were about 550, 500 and 650 for the three performances so it was a very popular show!

    But as might be expected, the audience was virtually all white, 30-60 years old and one would guess Guardian/Observer readers.

    Quite serious people too! There was not a single laugh when one of the 100 said he lived in Neasden!

    The show was accompanied by a small booklet which could be bought for an extra one pound and this showed photos of all the 100 with about 30 words cleverly picked from their casting interviews to give an insight into their personality.

    However, there is not much chance of anything like this ever being repeated in the UK. It was a one off and if you missed it then thats for ever!

    Tony Glazier

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