Tag Archives: Stephanie Fuller

Don't Talk to Strangers

Don’t Talk to Strangers


VAULT Festival 2020

Dont Talk to Strangers

Don’t Talk to Strangers

Forge – The Vaults

Reviewed – 27th February 2020



“strikes the perfect balance between fun and thought provoking”


A mix-tape made for aliens, with a love story embedded in its formation. That is the history of the Golden Record – the message sent out to aliens on Voyager 1 and 2 – the legacy of which theatre collective Hot Cousin sets out to interrogate and play with in this wonderfully immersive and eclectic piece of theatre. Part of VAULT festival, Don’t Talk to Strangers sees Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (both leads on the project) reimagined as dreamy lovers who croon to each other in space puns and describe how their love influenced the record of humanity they created.

As it pastiches both their love story and their creative vision, the show aims to explore the power dynamics behind the record – the omissions, the inevitable colonialism – but does so in a way that blends seamlessly into wider questions of what it means to be human. How could we ever represent the infinite variety of our whole species on just one record, is the question the play asks, and it is an incredibly effective one.

The show takes the form of a series of vignettes featuring Sagan, Druyan, a manic interviewer, and a mysterious pink alien. Some are silly, some are dramatic, and some veer away from dialogue altogether into moments of pure emotion, dance, and sound. Cast together, they are weird, experimental theatre at its finest.

Each member of the company takes on a role – Elana Binysh (Interviewer), Stephanie Fuller (Druyan), Madeleine Lewis (Alien), and Ally Poole (Sagan) – but those feel like a limited way to describe their participation in the performance. All depict more than simple characters; they are convincing, inviting, and make the audience feel truly involved in what could have easily been repetitive and overdone scenes.

From the beginning, the show emphasises sound will be important – after all, that is what was sent out on the record – and it provides a subtle backbone for the show. Classical music, disco, remixed breathing, wailing, and other sounds fuse together as the show goes on, all complimented by groovy disco ball lighting. The staging is simple, with a record player often the focus, but allows the cast plenty of movement to explore their multi-dimensional parts.

All in all, in its short but sweet running time Don’t Talk to Strangers strikes the perfect balance between fun and thought provoking. And if you leave with nothing else, at least you’ll have witnessed a jazzy galactic funk remix of Beethoven’s 5th symphony that you didn’t know was missing from your life.


Reviewed by Vicky Richards


VAULT Festival 2020



Click here to see all our reviews from VAULT Festival 2020


Castles Palaces Castles – 2 Stars


Castles Palaces Castles

Theatre N16

Reviewed – 30th September 2018


“some really strong components involved in this piece, but their combined effect is unfortunately unimpactful”


A panel of three people sit, getting ready, adjusting their laptops. An armchair is draped in white. Two more performers join onstage, bringing on and rearranging other pieces of furniture, all wrapped in white material. This is accompanied by a silence punctuated only by the sound of the panelists testing their microphones, until a gradual soundscape is built, and the text begins. This is a multi-disciplinary piece, that combines experimental theatre and spoken word, aided by the use of soundscape and projection.

According to the programme, the show is inspired by the story of a French postman who, in 1879, began to build a palace that he had seen in his dreams. The build took him 33 years. It is a fascinating concept but unfortunately the show is too abstract and unengaging to do it any justice. The person behind this narrative is not explored and the many wonderful possibilities are not drawn out.

Calum Lynn’s text is beautifully written, but this again is done a disservice, accompanied by the action onstage. The text is beautifully and articulately delivered, but is predominantly pitched at one level, which requires a lot of focus not to wander from. The constant furniture moving feels amateurish and unsophisticated, overly repetitive and uninspired. The actions chosen feel ingenuine and are difficult to relate to and be moved by.

At certain points, projections morph over the white furniture. As a concept this works really well and has a really strong visual effect, but the projection design is not sufficiently cohesive, and so isn’t always used to its full effect. The soundscape element, created live before us, is a really exciting part of this piece and works really well, underscoring the words.

There are some really strong components involved in this piece, but their combined effect is unfortunately unimpactful.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography courtesy Significant Other Theatre 


Castles Palaces Castles

Theatre N16 until 4th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Unicorn | ★★★½ | May 2018
Shakespeare’s Mad Women | ★★★★ | June 2018
Reading Gaol | ★★★½ | July 2018
Rough | ★★ | September 2018


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