VAULT Festival

BUTCHERED at the VAULT Festival



“simply a very good horror story”


Whilst the Vault tunnels have been home to all sorts over the years, there’s no doubt that its truest form is horror; the dark interiors, cold brick walls dripping with condensation, the thud-thud-thud of occasional trains overhead. What else could you ask for to be put in the mood for terror-striking blood and gore?

Expial Atrocious’s Butchered seems especially fitting given it takes place deep underground, below the greedy, glutinous Top Steps. Master Sausage works day and night to make string upon string of sausages, never able to sate their faceless employer. But one day, they’re sent an eager wide-eyed novice, who insists on asking the questions Master Sausage can’t bear to hear: Why are you here? Who were you before? What do you really want?

There’s a temptation to see this as a wider metaphor, particularly with Master Sausage’s idolisation of their monstrous meat grinder, and their self-inflicted incuriosity about those making the orders upstairs. But if you start doing that, it gets a bit too lofty and takes away from what’s simply a very good horror story.

Directors and performers Nic Lawton and Ezre Holland have clearly worked together a long time, perfectly in sync, both comedically and physically: As the audience files in, Lawton and Holland perform a sort of butchery ballet on repeat, slicing the meat open, cutting a chunk off, feeding it to the dreaded grinder, mushing in some other ingredients, stuffing it in to a casing, and passing it upstairs. This is repeated throughout, showing the physical labour of the job as well as its utter tedium, and it’s actually quite beautiful to watch.

Considering the only real prop is a metal bowl filled with pink silly putty, Butchered is exceedingly gory, and I find myself, sat on the front row, strenuously grimacing and trying to sit as far back on my pew as possible. As with all horror stories whose prime intent is to make you squirm, the story is a bit silly, but Lawton and Holland are skilled at bringing enough humour to make it self-aware, whilst also committing to the gothic grimness. There’s quite a bit of plot being only hinted at or so quickly explained I’m not sure I’ve got it all, and if it were any longer, I might require further narrative explanation. But at 50 minutes, it’s just right.


Reviewed on 28th January 2023

by Miriam Sallon


Vault Festival 2023


Other Shows reviewed at VAULT Festival:


Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023
Intruder | ★★★★ | January 2023


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