Lung theatre company’s E15 is a show that continues to find fresh relevance and new networks of solidarity with every performance. Originally about the "Focus E15" campaign in 2013, in which a group of young mums fought their eviction from a London social housing estate, this enlightening piece of agit-prop also comments more widely on escalating homelessness and the ever-consolidating private ownership of land.
Huge cloth banners are draped around the theatre, as audiences enter to the sound of thundering pop music. This is a noisy protest, and it accurately captures the elements of fun and play that often constitute sit-ins and roadblocks. Before long, we are snapped into a series of monologues and direct addresses, often performed verbatim, taken from reports by the many young mothers and families who marched on Newham council.
E15 identifies and poses its own problem: political movements are hard, sometimes impossible, to sustain. It takes a lifetime of struggle, which is simply not an option for people who need to work seven days a week simply to afford rent. This is also a sticking point for the show itself: how might the retelling of it evolve as the resistance movement continues to flourish?
While E15’s messages are honest and critically important, it doesn’t always get the balance right between galvanising its audience and accusing them of lethargy. The show is at its strongest when simply amplifying these women’s voices. Instead of relying on the literal recreation of individual protests, telling their stories with even greater depth may yield more lasting results.