Reviewed – 7th February 2019
“The compelling acting and fusion of dramatic ideas enrich both the moral dilemma and the theatrical experience”
Amidst the weird, wonderful and wacky that is the VAULT Festival is a unique production from ‘Anonymous Is A Woman Theatre Company’. Inspired by the Aziz Ansari controversy and with the question of consent very much in the air, ‘Greyscale’ makes the audience consider the grey area around sexual dominance, social conditioning and human nature.
Without conferring, Joel Samuels and Madeline Gould each wrote a monologue recounting two very different versions of the same date. We hear one account in the street, as the festival audiences brush past, and the other in a local bar surrounded by background chatter. In between, we become voyeurs to an essential part of what happened behind closed doors.
Director, Roann McCloskey, brings an ambiguity to two people’s behaviour and reactions, triggering the debate on why we make the decisions we do and how we can remember the same event differently from each other. The close proximity of the actors in this kind of performance heightens the intensity and they both succeed in portraying the characters with vital sensitivity. Tom Campion as James is charming and effusive, talking passionately as he draws us into his story and his impression of their meeting, which, he says, may have taken an inadvertent turn. Lucy, played by Edie Newman, movingly describes the same evening, struggling to understand her own mixed emotions and overwhelming self-doubt. In the central scene, we peer through peep holes to witness what happened that night, stirring up a sense of unease; we are spying on their privacy, but they are trapped in it.
The immersive, site-specific nature of the show holds us in a personal way, urging us to listen, watch and reflect. And the cast of two men and two women rotates, varying the gender combination of the couple and allowing the discussion to go beyond being just a feminist issue. With the medley of relationships and the choice of who we meet first being up to the audience, seeing one variation on the theme prompts curiosity to sample the others. If #MeToo has brought awareness through the scandals of the rich and famous, this succinct piece brings the matter home to our own lives. The compelling acting and fusion of dramatic ideas enrich both the moral dilemma and the theatrical experience.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Photography by Ali Wright
Part of VAULT Festival 2019