Architecting (4 stars)

This article is from 2008


The history of catastrophe

As the UK slips into a free market-induced recession, the idea of apocalypse, be it environmental, economic or cultural, is bound to play on many a mind. It's timely, then, that TEAM, the vigorous and zestful young American company who brought Particularly in the Heartland to Fringe audiences in 2006, should return with this dazzling contemplation of the history of the end of history.

A young architect (Libby King) arrives in post-Katrina New Orleans to facilitate a housing development started by her late father. Amidst the devastation, she finds a bar whose hostess (Jill Frutkin) introduces historian Henry Adams (Jake Margolin) and Margaret Mitchell (Jessica Almasy), author of Gone With the Wind, who, by a time warp characteristic of this company, are regulars. From here, a brilliant conceit, full of mad Pynchonesque digressions draws parallels between the catastrophe of the antebellum South and the modern disaster of capitalism in a contemporary New Orleans, haunted by an appalling movie mogul (Frank Boyd), who is engaged in a blockbuster remake of Gone With the Wind and an exploited Scarlet O'Hara wannabe (Kirsten Seih).

NTS workshop are to be congratulated for their sponsorship of Rachel Chavkin and Davy Anderson's by turns spectacular, funny and warmly intimate piece. In a world in which 'Charisma beats the shit out of morality' as one character puts it, TEAM are unafraid to take a position. Yet, the issues raised by the modern carpetbaggers of New Orleans and Iraq aren't oversimplified – there are as many complexities to an architect developing a gated community where a black working class neighbourhood had existed as there are in accusing Margaret Mitchell of racism.

Through all the frenetic physical work, enchanting song and scintillating dialogue, a case is made for the architecture of history itself, which modifies our responses contingent upon the recorder, just as the design of space alters our behaviour in houses, which are frequently imagined as burning or collapsing in this dystopian modern America. The ensemble is, to an individual, splendid, and, while the piece could profitably lose 15 minutes of its two hours, this is as clever and thoroughly endearing an entertainment as you're likely to see this Fringe.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 24 Aug (not 11, 18), times vary, £14–£16 (£10–£11).

Architecting (Previews)

  • 4 stars

Collaboration between Fringe First winners TEAM and the National Theatre of Scotland, which looks at the ways in which America has rebuilt and designed itself, through post-Katrina venture capitalism and a Miss Scarlett O'Hara beauty pageant.


  • 4 stars

The TEAM returns with a brash, complex piece exploring American cultural mythology and modern capitalism.