Cavern – The Vaults
Reviewed – 12th March 2020
“Cat Kolubayev has written an extremely funny piece that keeps you guessing”
VAULT Festival continues to throw up the most varied content.
Bin Juice starts off with two ladies who work for a hazardous removal company, interviewing for a new employee. But this waste collection unit does not pick up empty Domino’s boxes, their waste is a lot more sinister, with human bodies requiring disposal.
The Cavern theatre, with its brick walls, high ceiling and resident echo, cannot help but be eerie. Lighting (Holly Ellis) is well designed, as is the sound (Tingying Dong). The audience seating is arranged like opposing church pews facing off against each other, with the performance space in the middle. Director Anastasia Bruce-Jones does a tremendous job in moving the cast around this space for the benefit of all the audience. The set comprises of a couple of small tables and chairs with a black rubbish bag sitting centre stage.
Adeline Waby as Francine drives the action along and is strongest in the opening interview scene. I would like her to have slowed down her delivery ever so slightly, to avoid crucial words not being picked up. Madison Clare is her sidekick Marla, her facial expressions and comic timing were spot on. She was the highlight of the show for me and the story detailing her mother’s demise and explaining her crush on Captain Birdseye were a delight. Helena Antoniou as Barney/Belinda makes up the trio. She is a complex, multi-layoured character that you can’t quite make out. What exactly is her story and why does she wear a turtle neck in hot weather? A very interesting and solid performance.
Cat Kolubayev has written an extremely funny piece that keeps you guessing and you can’t help but be drawn in by the plot. Only in the second scene, did I feel that the pace dipped slightly.
I’m not the greatest fan of black comedy and I worried that this might be distasteful. Instead I found it rather charming and yet slightly unsettling at the same time.
Here we witnessed an example of excellent team work. Every single member of the crew and cast did their job with flair and precision timing, in a very slick production.
I’m off to buy some vegetables from a Lincolnshire farm, I hear they taste great.
Reviewed by Chris White
Photography by Lidia Crisafulli
Reviewed – 27th March 2018
“Jaz Hutchins gives a stunning performance and makes the most of Ridley’s writing”
Novelist and playwright Philip Ridley has been cited as a pioneer of ‘in-yer-face’ theatre. Indeed his 1991 debut play The Pitchfork Disney was considered by many to have influenced the development of that style of work. In 2010 Ridley’s Moonfleece caused controversy when a Dudley arts centre cancelled a run as it felt the content “includes characters and themes of a political and potentially discriminatory nature”. The premise of the work is based around a gay relationship plus the advocates and victims of racism and homophobia. It traces a family with far right politics and the highly destructive and damaging results it eventually has on them.
Fast forward to 2018 and the Lidless Theatre are reviving Moonfleece in the compact stagespace studio at The Pleasance, London. Part of the project is supported by the Islington Youth Council who are serious about tackling the adverse impact hate crime has had on their community.
Upon entering the theatre it is clear the audience is going to feel part of the action, being up close and personal to the characters in the dilapidated East End tower block squat flat that the action will centre in. The set has two graffiti covered walls and the room is littered with debris and the seating is on two sides of the stage.
We are quickly introduced to the main character of the play – Curtis (Jamie Downie) a troubled young man who is part of a family hell-bent on spreading their fascist views to the surrounding neighbourhood. He returns uninvited to his old home with two of his henchman Tommy (Josh Horrocks) and the shaven headed unstable Gavin (Joshua Dolphin). They are dressed smartly, yet menacingly, in sharp grey suits with St George’s cross lapel badges on them. They are there for a séance in search of his lost brother’s ghost and over the next ninety minutes, we are introduced to a total of eleven characters who slowly add to the story that swings from shock violence to touching sadness. The main story is that of a dead brother who was banished by Curtis’ stepfather because of his sexual orientation. Though as with many Ridley plays, all is not what it initially seems.
When eventually the green haired wheelchair bound spiritual medium Nina (Adeline Waby) arrives the stage is ready for a showdown. There are a few characters that are arguably superfluous to the story but no doubt Ridley felt a reasonable need to include these to add both humour and further tension. The pace and substance of the play change when Zak arrives. Jaz Hutchins gives a stunning performance and makes the most of Ridley’s writing. It not only clarifies the story but it changes the pace and substance of the play.
Director Max Harrison has done well to revive this important piece of work, to fit so many characters into such a small space and to keep the pace moving well throughout. Designer Kit Hinchcliffe’s set makes the audience feel as though they really are in a squat. The lighting from Katy Gerard is basic though effective as is the sound design by Annie May Fletcher.
Overall this was a good showing of the play and as usual with Philip Ridley there is much to consider about the content when leaving the theatre.
Reviewed by Steve Sparrow
Photography by Gregory Birks
Pleasance Theatre until 15th April