In 2011, reclusive artist Banksy spotted an old water tank in LA and tagged it ‘THIS LOOKS A BIT LIKE AN ELEPHANT’. When news spread, and the tank’s value skyrocketed, a consortium of art dealers repossessed it, in the process seizing the home of Tachowa Covington, who’d lived there for seven years.
Tom Wainwright takes this story as the basis for his short play Banksy: The Room in the Elephant, but deliberately reimagines it. The result is a rich monologue, ably performed by charismatic Gary Beadle, which grapples with social divide, the act of creation and the artist’s responsibility to real-life subjects.
The irony of accusing Banksy of exploitation is not lost on Wainwright, whose self-referential script features Covington berating him for using another person to cure his writer’s block, and challenging the audience’s desire to learn about Banksy, not him. The snake has eaten its own tail and come back for seconds.