Tag Archives: Martha Godfrey

Hear me Howl

Hear me Howl
★★★

VAULT Festival

Hear me Howl

Hear me Howl

The Vaults

Reviewed – 31st January 2019

★★★

 

“Lydia Rynne’s script is witty and well-paced, and it’s worth a watch”

 

Regardless of what you’ve come to see, The Vaults, with its old brick tunnel walls and stark furnishings, is always an exciting venue. Upon entering, we’re given a pair of earplugs, the reason for which becomes apparent when we see the stage covered with various drum kits. And, right on time, we are alerted to the play’s beginning with a chaotic drum crash.

Jess is nearly thirty, living in a basement flat; she has a boyfriend with whom she has sex once a month and a job that at best she finds boring, and at worst deeply despises. On discovering she is pregnant she embarks on an early life-crisis, or as the theatre’s synopsis calls it, a late coming-of-age journey, as she tries to decide if she actually wants this baby or if she is simply giving in to society’s futurist regenerative pressures.

The play consists of an hour-long monologue, and Alice Pitt-Carter does well to keep the audience engaged, making good use of the space, and allowing for peaks and troughs of energy in her delivery. The Vault Theatre’s Cavern sits directly under a train line and throughout the play the trains beat overhead to great effect, a sporadic but weighty heart-beat rhythm lending a seemingly purposeful baseline to the soundtrack. Owing to the venue’s unusual combination of echoing acoustics and an intimate space, Kay Michael might have directed Pitt-Carter to create a more confessional performance. But she acts in much the same way you might in a larger, more conventional auditorium. She is not over-dramatic, but when the audience is so close to the performer it seems unnecessary to enunciate and facially contort with such clarity.

Caley Powell’s production is simple but effective: Sally Somerville-Woodiwis’ stripped-back set design consists of a drum kit, more scattered drums, and walls covered with teenage bedroom-style poster collages. The sound design is equally bare-bones – Pitt-Carter uses the drums and a solitary microphone to punctuate certain lines, lend an element of tension or, as you would imagine with a self-professed amateur on a drum-kit, to create a feeling of stress and havoc. Martha Godfrey’s lighting generally either floods the stage and part of the audience, or spotlights in moments of high tension. All this is to great effect – it’s a small venue and the audience is on level with the staging so an overly sophisticated production would be too distracting.

A one-woman play about the pressures of society in which the protagonist decides, with zero musical experience, to be a drummer in a punk band, is a perfect recipe for disaster, and to its credit, it is not disastrous. It is, however, by no means ground-breaking either. The current conversation regarding abortion isn’t quite so fraught and the story somehow doesn’t seem realistic in the way it might have ten years ago. Nonetheless, Lydia Rynne’s script is witty and well-paced, and it’s worth a watch.

 

Reviewed by  Miriam Sallon

Photography by Will Lepper

 

Vault Festival 2019

Hear me Howl

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

Previous review of this show:
Hear me Howl | ★★★★ | Old Red Lion Theatre | September 2018

 

 

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Lola

Lola
★★★★

VAULT Festival

Lola

Lola

The Vaults

Reviewed – 23rd January 2019

★★★★

 

“the incredible writing, coupled with Dunne’s fluid, lively direction, allows the performances to spring to life”

 

Papercut Theatre have created something truly special with Hannah Nixon’s play Lola. Under Melissa Dunne’s direction, and using Nabokov’s Lolita as a source of inspiration, the play effortlessly addresses issues of power and gender that are timely and highly impassioned.

The play follows Lola (Gemma Barnett), an 18-year-old sixth former who is attempting to navigate the restraints and obsessions put on her gender and sexuality by the boys, and men, around her. In seeking the council of two of her teachers, Jez (Rob Ostlere) and Olivia (Joanne Ferguson), the play spills into a gripping and highly relevant drama of gender politics that refuses to stay silent.

Nixon’s writing is intricate and subtle and yet so full of weight. She’s able to capture so much story in a few sweeping statements, thus giving space for some excellent drama to play out between the play’s three characters as they struggle for power. The dialogue is seamless and flows like everyday conversation, constantly building in tension and allowing us to read deeper into all three personalities. The script does, however, lose some of its feeling when slipping into the dream sequences, which are a little jarring and occasionally act to take us out of the drama, rather than to throw us in deeper.

That said, the incredible writing, coupled with Dunne’s fluid, lively direction, allows the performances to spring to life. Ferguson’s Olivia is proud and human, funny and heartfelt. Ostlere’s Jez is charming and unnerving, and there is some real genius behind the actor’s creation of this untrustworthy ‘nice guy’ who proves difficult to work out. As Lola, Barnett’s performance takes centre stage; it’s mesmerising, raw and so beautifully executed. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll make you cry.

Lola is one of the best new plays I’ve seen a long while – it’s exciting, it’s slick, it’s inspiring and it showcases some real upcoming talent. Contemporary drama about gender politics can so often miss the mark, but this company have produced something that challenges social norms in a way that feels original, rousing and ultimately moving. I urge you to go and see this play if you can.

 

Reviewed by Tobias Graham

Photography by Ali Wright

 

Vault Festival 2019

Lola

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

 

 

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