And an incredible story is definitely what the sold out studio at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre became a part of, when they arrived for Banksy: The room in the elephant. A Tobacco Factory and The Sum creation, the production consists of a live performance, followed by a documentary, both focused on proving that the narrative is entirely in the hands of the cameraman.
We are introduced to a man named Titus Coventry, who lived in a water tank on the outskirts of Tinsel Town for over seven years, having the best nights sleep and living contently with his main man ‘B’! That is until a ‘sneaky’ British bloke by the name of street artist, Banksy, walks past and decides Coventry’s home resembles an elephant and requests to paint the words ‘This looks a bit like an elephant’ on the outside. Before Titus has a chance to watch the paint dry, he is evicted as art dealers and council officials deem the tank a piece of art. The story is compared to a Holywood movie, the highs and lows and that ‘epiphany’ lightbulb moment, as Titus’s world caves in and he moves on.
The powerful script is really brought to life by the incredible performance from Gary Beadle, who has the audience gripped from his first steps on to the stripped back but cleverly designed set. Through the swearing, the charisma and the tears, we see a vulnerable homeless man, as well as an all knowing man about town. Paired with a daring script, the character is truly lifted off the page in a honest and heartfelt way leaving the audience wanting to bottle the energy and pure personality of Titus Coventry.
Following the performance is a documentary: the screening of Something from Nothing, which tells the story of Tachowa Covington and his water tank, amazingly fitted out with television and other home comforts! The documentary was filmed over seven years and shows a different version of the man behind the script, including his visit to the Edinburgh Fringe where he touchingly witnessed Gary Beadle’s performance from the front row, blurring the boundaries between reality and art.
A really insightful piece, proving that often the truth is less important and that the more you find out the less you know about reality. Moving, engaging and witty: Banksy may always be a mystery but Tachowa Covington’s story has definitely been portrayed in a fascinating style in this production.
Banksy: The Room in the Elephant continues to tour the UK, and is heading to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre next.