Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine)
Pit – The Vaults
Reviewed – 11th February 2020
“a fun and ultimately sincere one hour show which begins to portray the music, emotions and indigenous people of those glorious double zero years”
Previous decades have had their iconic theatre revivals. The 70s have Mamma Mia!, the 80s has The Bodyguard, and the 90s has Viva Forever! What should be clear from this list, is that the further away from a decade you get – the easier it is to write theatre for it. Coming Out Of My Cage is a genuine noughties musical, replete with all the nostalgia, joy, youth and instability which comes with the attempt to look back so soon.
Our two performers (Hannah Fellows and Tim Chapman) present a sort of old-style revue comedy act as the pair portray the creation of the show in which they are currently performing – what could be more millennial or post-modern than a show about itself? The characters, on stage and through their high-quality audiovisual content, trawl the web for every performance of Mr Brightside by The Killers only to become obsessed with one karaoke performer in the north of England. As their journey culminates, the duo finds the point at which their favourite party banger becomes a poignant swan song.
At the same time, just like the smashed avocado which, without doubt, fuelled this show – Coming Out Of My Cage tastes good but is a little green around the edges. The lack of tightness is a little challenging to ignore in the imposing setting of both the vaults physical and VAULT Festival. Moments of distracted audience participation are more Butlins than Beckett plus references and in-jokes are often not quite as funny or clever as they’re meant to be. However, these details give way to a show that does have a heart. The temptation to ironise, gimmick and meme, eventually becomes the servant to a human story.
Projections and sound recording, which Shepard Tone pride themselves in, come and go telling the story of the actors’ journey to find their mystery singer. Each section moves the narrative along well and is enjoyably novel and modern – the projections were sometimes tricky to follow due to the space, but this wasn’t enough to ruin the moment and creativity.
An opening gimmick literally sets the stage – the actors begin inside a cage which is left present for the remainder of the performance. Both performers dress in the sumptuous golden suits and ties of The Killer’s music video and this places the play in the same dreamlike Moulin Rouge where that music video occurs. On stage, music is a must for the millennial show, and the synth, ukulele and accordion are pleasant if a little off-piste from the story.
A protozoic noughties Mamma Mia!, Coming Out Of My Cage is a fun and ultimately sincere one hour show which begins to portray the music, emotions and indigenous people of those glorious double zero years. More shows will follow, and although this was the first and not the best, it is entertaining, committed and novel. The next time a newspaper columnist says that young people are too alienated and purist to have fun, make mistakes or to show they care about the little things – show them this show.
Reviewed by William Nash