Set on the streets of London, amidst the snarl of traffic and the clip of passers by, this work is a biographical sound portrait of two homeless people, Tara and George. It is a testament to the parlous state of homelessness in the UK today and is masterful in its execution.
To this work, producer and host Audrey Gillan brings a quality of frank disclosure and decency. Relationships between producers and their subjects are contentious, due to an inherent power differential. Gillan neither portrays Tara and George as archetypes nor as helpless and needy. She knows she is the one working for the BBC, delivering ‘their’ story to us in its very skin and bones. Over time, Gillan’s obvious affection for these two mendicants comes through; as does her desire to resolve an insoluble situation that goes back many years.
One of the principal strengths of the work is its framing of time. Over two years, we travel with Gillan and Tara and George, through freezing winters and searing summers, through illness and loss, disappearances, laughter and moments of great pain. Central to this is the relationship between George and Tara, “a love story—of sorts”. And just like many relationships that are further fuelled by substances and grief, the bond between George and Tara is complex and varied.