A Christmas Carol at the Culture Space

The Culture Space (21 Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16) was in a building situated above the Canada Water Underground Station and across the road from the Overground station. Funny, considering the Underground member of staff I asked for directions had no idea where it was though he did direct me to a library about 5 minutes’ walk away. Incidentally, the library was one floor above the Culture Space. Looked like more more marketing might be required.


As pictured above, the building was quite distinct and located in a busy square seemingly popular with school kids and skate boarders. There were some food stalls dotted around and on the day we visited, an unusual number of uniformed law enforcement agents. Unsure if this was the norm in the area. A footway led to the Surrey Quays shopping mall and the free car park, and there were extensive building works going on nearby (for 200+ residential apartments, apparently).

Back to the building, on entry, a rancid smell greeted us. Looking around, it was obvious it was coming from the cafe positioned in the entrance hall. We decided it was a mix of food and toilet ‘aroma’ in an enclosed area with little or no ventilation. It really wasn’t welcoming so we set off to explore the rest of the building.


We were there to see Box Clever’s A Christmas Carol but as the doors leading to the Culture Space were locked until performance time, we headed upstairs to check out the library. We liked the ambience and the seats by the vast window overlooking the water and shops, so we stayed to pass the time.

How were the show and the theatre? Brilliant! The theatre had a 150-seat capacity and at least 99% should get a good all-round view of the stage. Props were wonderfully minimalistic and though there were only 3 actors including a female, they managed to play all parts with a little help from random members of the audience – for example, Tiny Tim was played by a young volunteer. There was also a few minutes of group singing and movements by the rest of us.

The theme was contemporary and very politically relevant. Allusions were made to the minimum pay, slave labour, immigration and, of course, class divisions.

We were there with a number of school groups which meant it was noisy in places but not enough to distract from the brilliance of the actors who were so good that we stayed behind to congratulate them. We even managed to engage one of them in a lengthy chat about future events.

Would we see it again? Definitely! Would we return to the Culture Space? Only if an event it was putting on was unavailable elsewhere. There was something uninviting about the venue – the threatening outside area, the not-so-clean toilets, the lack of lounge seats in the waiting area, and the dank atmosphere in the lobby.

[We visited on 16 December 2016]


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