Camden Fringe review: A Caravan Named Desire

Split Infinitive (real-life married couple Alexander and Helen Millington) bring their latest show to the Camden Fringe, hot on the heels of I Heart Michael Ball and following a run at Brighton Fringe.

A Caravan Named Desire is one of those meta productions that has a false start and a supposed storyline that a lead actor (Helen, who also directs the show) steps in to play sex worker Crystal as the original actor is unavailable.

This leads to “interruptions” from Helen throughout which challenge the basis of Alex and Helen’s marriage, while Alex plays a version of himself under a fictional guise of ‘Gary’, finding material to write his new play.

Production photo for A Caravan Named Desire

Breaking the fourth wall almost immediately, Alex/Gary requests audience members now and then to participate (tricky with small numbers, as we had tonight, but do-able).

The stage has fairy lights, deckchairs, a drinks cooler, and little bits and pieces to make Crystal’s caravan both come to life and feel definitively “set”. Light cues are plentiful and well planned.

Two scenes stood out: a truncated ’36 questions’ between an Alex moving away from his research into uneasy friendship with Crystal after six months of client-service provider chat is handled well by both Millingtons as a truly human moment.

Secondly, a sequence played to Disturbed’s 2017 cover of the 60s classic Sound of Silence offers a dose of reality and an abrupt close to proceedings. This also involves the audience and, in a small space with a few attendees, makes the play feel very real and intimate.

Production photo for A Caravan Named Desire

Elsewhere there is sex talk and some strident humour from Helen (“erectile dysfunction is better than sayijg you’re married to me?”), particularly when a dimmed light for a frisky scene means she loses her place in the script as she bats off Alex’s attempts to take off her top.

Alex’s regular foray into monologue is both poetic and pathetic; while Helen’s Crystal (“from Essex”) feels tried, tested and tired of all the hassle she must get from clients – if successful, as her tax returns left strewn about attest.

A Caravan Named Desire is clever, inclusive, and something which can make audiences laugh, think (when was your first kiss?) and become emotionally engaged.

You can watch the show at Camden People’s Theatre until 12 Aug with tickets here.


Image credit: Danny Fitzpatrick

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.