Tag Archives: Flux Theatre

Something Awful

Something Awful

★★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Something Awful

Something Awful

Cavern – The Vaults

Reviewed – 29th January 2020

★★★★★

 

“a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat”

 

In 2014, two twelve-year-old girls from Wisconsin stabbed their supposed best friend 19 times in an attempt to appease the fictional internet creation Slender Man. Fortunately, the victim survived, having crawled to a road where she was found, and the two girls were subsequently found not guilty by mental disease or defect. Something Awful, the new play from award-winning Flux Theatre written by Tatty Hennessy and directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, takes inspiration from this gruesome tale and the horrors that lurk on online forums.

Soph (Natalya Martin) and her best friend Jel (Monica Anne) love reading scary stories on websites such as Creepypasta, that is, until new girl Ellie (Melissa Parker) turns up with her own horror story of a mysterious figure with an axe in the nearby forest. The line between fiction and reality slowly begins to blur with disastrous consequences.

Something Awful takes a fascinating premise and addresses issues becoming increasingly relevant in our society. The ease in which children can access grotesque and inappropriate content on the internet is an obvious concern for parents, and the real-life case which the play is based on demonstrates the possible terrifying results of such exposure. A scene in which Soph gets her first period at a sleepover reminds us just how young these characters are despite the media they are consuming, and the quick installation of a VPN on their mobile devices shows just how quickly young people can get around the barriers in place for their protection.

All three women are fantastically convincing in their roles, and have excellent chemistry. The play’s pacing is good for the most part though the morbid conclusion to the tale is perhaps a bit rushed. Some more build up to the girls’ decision would be appreciated though this does also make the ending all the more dramatic in its suddenness.

The set (Bethany Pratt) is very simple. Two tables are moved around the stage for different scenes, in some, they are desks, in another a bed and, in the performance’s final moments, either side of a forest path. Props are also minimal. The cast carry school backpacks from which appear, amongst other things, a laptop, a takeaway container and some scissors.

The lighting (Holly Ellis) is slick and perfectly reflective of the mood on stage. When Soph reads out a terrifying tale, the stage slowly darkens until only she is left in the spotlight. Green hues are also used frequently to give a thoroughly creepy feel to the show. There is potential for certain moments to be creepier – for example, the opening story about a disfigured woman would pack more punch if Parker was to wear a mask – but this had no real impact on the show’s overall affect.

Overall, Something Awful is a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat.

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

bottled

Bottled
★★★★★

VAULT Festival

bottled

Bottled

The Vaults

Reviewed – 14th February 2019

★★★★★

 

“a stellar debut, thoroughly researched with keen dialogue”

 

It is rare for theatre to leave the audience silently stunned in the final blackout. However, Bottled will succeed in rendering you utterly speechless, trying and failing to hold back tears. For a debut playwright and performed by such a youthful cast, it’s an awesome achievement.

Katy, simultaneously played by Alice Vilanculo, Isabel Stone and Hayley Wareham, introduces herself to us on her fifteenth birthday. Over the course of the next hour we follow her as she gets a boyfriend, studies for her GCSEs and tries to get on with her mum’s new boyfriend, Brian. Brian seems alright at first, apart from his baking of strawberry flavoured cakes (Katy’s least favourite) he actually seems like a cool guy, offering to pay for Katy’s Spanish holiday with her mates and taking her fishing. But gradually her mum stops seeing her friends, Aunty Carol doesn’t come round anymore, and mum has quit her job because Brian can look after the both of them on his own. It doesn’t take long before Katy’s mum is isolated and Katy starts to notice purple patterns around her mother’s eye.

Exploring domestic abuse from the perspective of a teenager, and someone whose life is secondarily affected by manipulation, violence and fear is deeply emotive. Katy’s innocence and naivety means it just hurts harder. Each of the three actors portray their own emphasis and interpretation but form a hive mind on stage so that each is a distinct part of Katy.

Hayley Wareham’s script is cleverly balanced, introducing Katy as a bright, witty and ambitious young girl who’s aware of the absurdities of modern life. You immediately warm to her through humour but ultimately empathise with sincerity as you see how quickly circumstances can change. It’s a stellar debut, thoroughly researched with keen dialogue. The piece sensitively and subtly explores the current failings of the welfare system, in which refuge centres, hostels and temporary housing make it painfully difficult to sustain a life free from abuse, let alone thrive with one.

Chris White’s direction is necessarily stylised having multiple actors playing the same character. This has the effect of actually elevating the horror of the situation through echoes, amplification and repetition of sound and movement (Jess Tucker Boyd). Conversely, the set and lighting is sparse, with no more than a handful of props used with surprising utility coming from helium balloons.

Bottled makes for a truly affecting piece filled with emotional urgency that certainly proves it’s not about big budgets when it comes to impactful theatre.

 

Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Slav Kirichok

 

Vault Festival 2019

Bottled

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

 

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com