Architecting draws heavily on both the film and book of Gone With The Wind. At 150 minutes, it is pretty heavy weather if you’ve neither read it nor seen the movie.
The trouble with things based on something else comes when you haven’t seen the something else and therefore cannot fully appreciate the thing. Architecting, currently in the Pit at the Barbican, is a co-production by New York company The TEAM and the National Theatre of Scotland which draws heavily on both the film and book of Gone With The Wind. At 150 minutes, it is pretty heavy weather if you’ve neither read it nor seen the movie.
Part bar room drama and part road trip odyssey; the play seeks to use a film producer and director’s politically correct Gone With The Wind remake project as a medium through which to compare the devastation and aftermath of the American civil war with the ongoing reconstruction projects in post Katrina New Orleans. As if this wasn’t a fairly substantial mission in itself, the production also develops several simultaneous subplots and character studies into the bargain: an ingénue architect from the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line whirls around the stage in song and dance routines with a thermodynamic historian and several Wind characters. The tone abruptly jumps from funny to serious to both and it makes for a bewildering and sometimes shocking evening.
Architecting was devised by the company members and it bears all the hallmarks of too many good ideas from workshops and rehearsals crammed into one production. Having said that, the sheer range and skill of all six cast members make them well worth watching as they lurch between roles, costumes and centuries with all the chaotic energy of a destructive storm that never quite seems to break.