Revels in Hand did not sell itself short on the venue. As journalists-cum-bloggers-cum-insta-famous-influencers filed into a Shangri-La Hotel room on the 39th floor of The Shard, there was a pyretic intrigue as to what the evening had in store. Were we entering into the blood-stained lair of Patrick Bateman? Were we the affluent residents standing atop the luxury high-rise building of a J.G. Ballard novel? Who were we waiting to see scaling down the glass-panelled exterior of this pyramidal edifice? The mind races, although perhaps too fast on this occasion.
The mission statement of the Revel in Hands theatre service is to ‘bring the West End to your living room’ by giving bespoke performances in spaces as contained as a bedroom and as expansive as an 80ft yacht. The idea is not an original one, but creators Melanie Fullbrook, Freddie Hutchins and Lucy Eaton could be forgiven for borrowing from the great man himself. Home performances were a Shakespearean creation (or at least, hark from the same era) and the company’s actors pay homage to the playwright with a bevy of his classics in their catalogue.
There was no Shakespeare in the evening’s performances, but they did have a decidedly English flavour to them. Both plays (approximately 45 minutes each) were set in the interwar period, focusing on the superficial hedonism of England’s Bright Young Things, also a favoured target of the late great Evelyn Waugh.
Before our arrival, I confess that my colleague and I were a trifle ambivalent about the evening. When one hears about a home theatre performance, the availability heuristic ekes out the repressed childhood memories of the third-tier pantomime shows that took place in the suburban back garden of a recently divorced father. While it was unlikely that Revels in Hand would be a reincarnation of those performances, the underlying fear was that the concept would not be backed by the quality of performance.
We were gladly mistaken. Each cast member of the six-person ensemble were a joy to watch, delivering slick, waggish performances. In no way did the opulent setting suffocate the performances; rather, their chameleonic adaptation to the ‘set’ allowed each actor to thrive, which is important, given that it is these types of venues that they will be performing.
For a crisp £5,000, Revels in Hands does offer something different to the ordinary theatre experience. It is a hefty price tag, but owning a superyacht is not a prerequisite. Revels, working in tandem with theatre company Go People, have also performed at various functions at the City, so why not pinch the company card and start preparing for the next Christmas party?
Photo credits: Tomas Turpie