PATIENT 4620 at the VAULT Festival
“I’d have rather left disturbed than bemused, and allowed this genuinely brilliant and terrifying idea to come to full fruition”
It’s possible I’m out of the loop, but until this year, I’d never heard of a one-on-one production, and this month I’ve seen two. It might sound a bit mad, and I’m not suggesting that’s the way theatre should be moving, but I like it as a format. Although it means you can’t go along with a friend, it creates the possibility for an intimacy and intensity that just isn’t possible in a normal audience set-up.
Patient 4620 invites you to a private guided tour of the artist Gretel Sauerbrot’s life’s work and her eventual permanent stay at an insane asylum. Sitting in a wheelchair, you’re rolled about by an unseen host from one painting to the next, each spot-lit in turn in the otherwise entirely blackened space.
The narrator (Kaz Brown), heard through a speaker, is an intimate friend of the artist who knows exactly what personal troubles and traumas drew the artist to paint. The build-up to her ultimate psychological break-down is well-paced; the works have an ominous foreboding, and the art is good enough that I’m happy to buy into it.
The second half, however, in which I meet my creepy helper, doesn’t quite work. As it turns out he’s a doctor (Robb Wildash) and I’m the patient. But whilst his demeanour is erratic and genuinely a bit terrifying, the plot doesn’t hold so well, and the final moments are disappointing. It feels a bit like writer and director Victoria Snaith was a bit too conscientious of the effects of the close, dark space, not wanting to frighten the audience-of-one, and so decided to lighten the mood, just when she might have scared the bojangles out of them. Personally, I’d have rather left disturbed than bemused, and allowed this genuinely brilliant and terrifying idea to come to full fruition. This year’s run is over, but I look forward to experiencing it in its next and, hopefully, far more terrifying iteration.
Reviewed on 12th February 2023
by Miriam Sallon
More VAULT Festival reviews:
Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023
Butchered | ★★★★ | January 2023
Intruder | ★★★★ | January 2023
Thirsty | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Kings of the Clubs | ★★★ | February 2023
Gay Witch Sex Cult | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Love In | ★★★★ | February 2023
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