this space is occupied - review
The Old Crown, Ivegate, Bradford
Yorkshire Post, June 2018
Yvette Huddleston 4/5
On a balmy Saturday night in Bradford, an animated group gather on Ivegate outside a beautiful, but slightly rundown, building – the former pub The Old Crown.
This is the audience for Bent Architect’s This Space is Occupied and they have a treat in store. The pub has been transformed – with awe-inspiring attention to detail by production designer Jude Wright – into a 1970s squat occupied by a radical arts collective.
The performance takes place across the whole building, with audience members moving from room to room, to witness the complex relationships unfolding between four young people – Boz (Jim English), Jaz (Natalie Davies), Hari (Kamal Hussain) and Ann Marie (Claire Marie Seddon).
They have big ideas and bigger ambitions – they want equality, they want to shake down the old order and, just as importantly, they want to have fun. Mick Martin’s script wittily explores the potential clashes between youthful idealism and human nature. Free love is all very well, but what happens when jealousy rears its ugly head? It also pays eloquent tribute to Bradford’s radical past as a city that was often at the forefront of social change.
And, despite the historical setting, it’s a play that feels very timely. Although the events depicted are taking place 40 years ago, the themes touched upon – including racism, misogyny and capitalist greed versus social justice – are, sadly, still all too familiar. That said, overall the feeling among the audience watching was one of positivity, joy and empowerment. When people work together it is possible to change the world, even if it is just your small corner of it. And that is a very powerful message indeed.