A beautiful mess’ – was the phrase that inspired the fourth Hidden Spire production, new play Sawdust.

Arts at the Old Fire Station – who offer art to the public with their theatre, shop and studios, and Crisis – a national charity for homeless people, collaborated together to create the show. Their ultimate aim is to help end homelessness in Oxford.

Over the past 14 months, 51 Crisis clients have worked with 21 professional artists, starting with workshops to write, design, build and perform the play. Some Crisis members also helped with set and costume design; with others acting for the very first time.

Encapsulating everyone’s suggestions into the script was the mammoth task of Oxford based playwright Rowan Padmore – who also stepped in at the last minute to play Insect Girl. With 13 characters and nine songs performed with live music, it was an ambitious piece about power relations and “what to do when your way of life is crumbling, and you have to pay the lions”. It’s clear everyone worked hard for the end result.

At first the staging looks plain and rustic, but slowly the show transforms as Viva Vintage Circus comes to life. Stories, however, are ultimately unfinished and posed questions left unanswered, which was a little frustrating.

In the after show Q&A we heard from the likes of AJ, who played Eric, who spoke of how, despite initially feeling completely out of his comfort zone, learning his lines became all consuming.

Considering they didn’t have the full cast until the day before their first performance, Sawdust and Hidden Spires are admirable projects which deserve our support. A wonderfully heart-warming display of collaboration, professionals and novices alike supporting and bringing out each other’s talents.