THE NET KILL at the VAULT Festival
“kills with a witty script that manages to avoid clichés in unexpected and humorous ways”
The Incognito Theatre Company describe The Net Kill as a play about badminton — “the most pointless garden sport ever invented”. But it’s about much more than that, of course. It is a delightful caper about five friends who go on a “quest” to rid the West Country of a fearsome creature who has been slaughtering aristos and yokels alike. They are also hoping to rescue their beloved local pub from permanent closure. These two utterly unrelated events are linked by a lot of rushing about on stage, with badminton racquets. Oh, and shuttlecocks. And a net. Sound like a lot to cram into sixty minutes? Absolutely, but it’s sixty fun filled minutes of impeccably choreographed physical action. The Net Kill also kills with a witty script that manages to avoid clichés in unexpected and humorous ways.
The plot is a comfortable mash up of elements stolen from Sherlock Holmes novels and the Boys Own magazines. Whatever else transpires in this tale, you know the chaps will triumph in the end. They begin by taking on local badminton tournaments with aplomb. Their talent for winning does not go unnoticed by shadowy figures lurking in Queen Victoria’s police force. Soon the team is on its way to Gloucestershire to face a ravenous beastie armed with nothing other than the aforementioned badminton racquets. Are they true blue, upstanding and heroic figures? Like all heroes, they have a few flaws. They cheat a little, it is true; one of their number has a King Arthur complex; another has lycanthropic tendencies as a result of being raised by wolves in Wales. At least one has a megalomaniac desire for aristocratic titles. Yet it is these flaws that allow them to confront the beast without and within.
What sets the script of The Net Kill apart is that each role is clearly defined even though much of the action revolves around ways in which the characters act as a pack. Armed with a script that needs impeccable comic timing, some props and an ironic choice of music ranging from Vivaldi to Led Zeppelin, the company makes the time zip by. In addition, actors Angus Castle-Doughty, Charlie MacVicar, George John, Alex Maxwell and Daniel Whitlam display athletic skills that would put most athletes to shame. If they can keep up this pace without burning out, Incognito Theatre is going places.
Enthusiastically recommended. Even if the heroes of The Net Kill do employ dodgy tactics for winning badminton tournaments.
Reviewed on 7th March 2023
by Dominica Plummer
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