by Matthew McGregor-Morales
What’s the cost of progress? Are big, shiny, new-building complexes really progression at all? These questions are at the heart of a raging battle for London’s soul, and Frankie Foxstone couldn’t give a shit about the answers.
Writer and performer Amy Gwilliam brings estate agent and developer extraordinaire Frankie Foxstone to the ‘blank slate’ of the Waterloo arches, daring her audience to revel in all that untapped potential that are only a few bulldozers and breakfast meet-ups away. The Edinburgh fringe show feels right at home amongst the graffiti and noise of Leake Street, and Frankie saunters by the general public with an amused aloofness as she shares her plans for a brave new world. Are you invited? It all depends on your assets, darling.
Gwilliam has something to say about development, both professional and personal. Foxstone’s Five Step Pathway To Development lampoons Instagram self-help gurus as much as the glossy brochures of commercial London, as audiences walk their way through a biting satire that aggressively shoves the mirror towards anyone who ever wanted to improve themselves.
It’s playful, interactive, and musical; from Disclosure to Starship, Frankie has burned and built the modern world, and she wants you to know about it. “I’ve had a hand in the Elephant”, she announces gleefully, when one theatre-goer gives up their South London postcode. Where do I spend more money, a born Londoner is left wondering, Mercato Metropolitano or actual Elephant and Castle market? And who knew estate agents had gap years, too? Passing a small stretch of brown field (some grass and a few empty cans), Frankie is reminded of the Mumbai slums she improved with a high-rise or two. Inspiring.
The points being made here might not all be novel – Frankie’s dreams feel straight out of a post-Housing Act 1980 – but don’t blame Gwilliam for 40-odd years of stagnant morality and itchy fingers. Besides, the Foxstones of this world won long ago, and as Frankie keeps claiming credit for the shiny, new London her audience loves and lives in, it gets harder and harder to own the moral high ground.
The Profit is unapologetic, uncomfortable, immersive and fun, so bring your game face and get yourself on the gravy train.
Frankie Foxstone aka The Profit runs through 2 February.
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