Tag Archives: Holly Ellis

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

★★★½

VAULT Festival 2020

Everybody Cares Everybody Understands

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

Cavern – The Vaults

Reviewed – 11th February 2020

★★★½

 

“lightening-up moments here and there could only reinforce its intrinsically powerful  message”

 

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands brought to the VAULT Festival by Papercut Theatre takes itself perhaps a bit too seriously – but is powerful nevertheless.

Lou is not exactly mentally stable. In fact, she is pretty much mentally unstable – but not in a pretty Hollywood way. She does not suffer silently. She is not a hero. She is not a delicate flower. When faced with the world that thinks of her as simultaneously dangerous and pathetic, Lou starts questioning if her problems do not actually became her own sense of self.

Played by diverse cast of four (Josie Charles, Joe Eyre, Hamza Siddique, Tricia Wey), each character filters their experiences with mental problems through their own lenses – lenses of different skin tones, ages, relationship and professional status. Their own struggles revolve around Lou’s struggles: sometimes different people play Lou, sometimes they all meet Lou during a group therapy, sometimes they date Lou, and sometimes Lou interacts with them to gain a deeper understanding of their own personal battles.

The entire play is wholly deconstructed for the audience (including loudly proclaimed scene changes and even in-play discussions about the intent behind the play), as quite boldly directed by Wiebke Green. The flow between scenes could have been perhaps a bit smoother – it is sometimes a bit difficult to empathise with the characters, let alone understand them. In print, the whole concept is probably very clear, however on stage a bit of framing for the sake of smoothness would be beneficial.

Needless to say, lighting by Holly Ellis is absolutely magnificent, especially in such a non-theatrical (although admittedly very cool) space as The Vaults. It is dynamic and surprising and perfectly amps things up when they start turning a bit monotonously serious.

Because here’s the rub – with all its brilliant qualities, Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands takes itself a tiny little bit too seriously. Not to say that its topic should be taken lightly as such – absolutely not – but lightening-up moments here and there could only reinforce its intrinsically powerful  message.

 

Reviewed by Dominika Fleszar

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

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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

 

 

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