Cavern – The Vaults
Reviewed – 26th February 2020
“possesses many strong qualities, but Bevan’s ambitious script is overflowing with ideas at the expense of cohesion”
Ever wondered what zoos do with the animals during extreme weather? As Hurricane Jonas rages toward Cherokee Valley Zoo in Miami, curator Bonnie (Lily Bevan) talks us through her preparation routine. It involves herding flamingos into the zoo’s restroom. Meanwhile, across the pond in Yorkshire, bat expert Carol (Lorna Beckett) suffers through another school visit to teach children about the cave-dwelling creatures. Bonnie is an enthusiastic American who does her best to “surround people with light.” Carol is as reserved as they come in Yorkshire. The two women have almost nothing in common, except they both like animals more than people.
Bevan’s Zoo interweaves Bonnie and Carol’s stories, occasionally using flashbacks to trace their friendship, which began at a zoologist conference in England. Bevan is warm and energetic as the high-spirited Bonnie. She performs a humorous, intensely earnest monologue filled with weird and gross facts about animals. Did you know penguins will engage in necrophilia? Her bubbly narration is directly at odds with the increasing threat of the hurricane.
Beckett has a good sense of the comedy around her own, more subdued character, and skilfully draws it out. In scenes together, Bonnie and Carol’s dynamic is fun and engaging. There’s some excellent writing in this piece about female friendship and love for animals, but as a whole it’s uneven. What ought to be a tight hour meanders instead. The small, scattered digs into Bonnie’s backstory are too shallow to really expose much, and an unsubtle confrontation about Carol’s abusive ex-husband feels wedged in.
The show appears to lose its way somewhere around the middle in terms of both subject and tone. The first and second part seem like two different plays hanging together uncomfortably. Another sudden turn toward the end takes us to an oddly spiritual culmination of the story that feels out-of-step with the rest.
A highly distinctive show that’s fresh and frequently compelling, Zoo possesses many strong qualities, but Bevan’s ambitious script is overflowing with ideas at the expense of cohesion.
Reviewed by Addison Waite
One Hundred Trillion
Old Vic Workrooms
Reviewed – 7th April 2019
“The Dot Collective and director Laura Harling have created something truly beautiful”
Walking into the venue I was spoken to by someone who I thought was a helpful road worker, he said “are you here for that One Hundred Trillion thing? It’s over there”. I proceeded to walk into the venue thinking nothing more of this. On receiving my ticket I was directed to walk up some stairs where I was greeted in an exaggerated manner by a gentleman who showed me the way to the bar or to the toilets … I chose the bar. I didn’t think much about my earlier encounters as I listened to the live music being performed in there by two of the cast.
I think it’s important to say that this isn’t a ‘show’ or even a ‘performance’, I feel it surpasses those terms and sits better being referred to as an experience, and what an experience it is. We are exposed to facts and figures regarding dementia which we struggle to comprehend only to be then given a visual way of thinking about it, with the idea of the bookshelf. This helps us picture how the mind works in this way and the reasons some memories are kept and some drift away.
The experience then takes us on a literal journey around the building putting us in rooms covered in writings from actual people that the company has connected with through its research. These stories and real answers to questions littering the walls allow us into the very different minds that created them, they feel true and grounded. This is something I came back to a lot during the evening, the idea of truth and authenticity. The portrayal of those incredibly touching yet personal stories was sensitively done, letting us into the lives of those affected.
Interlacing the performance elements are snippets of footage from the various nursing homes the company had visited, reminding us that these are real people and what they say matters. These clips were sometimes supported with voiceovers from the creatives on the project explaining what they had done and who they had connected with in order to get their material, this cemented for me that this was a labour of love and not a vanity project. The creative team and seven strong cast gave an impression of really caring, and for an audience this means a lot, we feel comfortable laughing at funny lines and more importantly we feel okay to shed a tear when it touches us.
One Hundred Trillion is a promenade piece and each journey into a new room is a different performance – The Frames, written by Chantelle Dusette, I Could Have Danced All Night by Margaret Perry, Lucy Grace’s Topsoil, and London Bus by Lily Bevan.
The Dot Collective and director Laura Harling have created something truly beautiful, making memories feel real and showing us how important it is to celebrate what we remember because one day there’s a chance you might forget. A true work of brilliance, sensitively crafted and authentically shown, touching the audience on a human level.
Reviewed by Laurie Wilson
Photography by Headshot Toby
One Hundred Trillion
Old Vic Workrooms until 11th May