Cavern – The Vaults
Reviewed – 12th March 2020
“Cat Kolubayev has written an extremely funny piece that keeps you guessing”
VAULT Festival continues to throw up the most varied content.
Bin Juice starts off with two ladies who work for a hazardous removal company, interviewing for a new employee. But this waste collection unit does not pick up empty Domino’s boxes, their waste is a lot more sinister, with human bodies requiring disposal.
The Cavern theatre, with its brick walls, high ceiling and resident echo, cannot help but be eerie. Lighting (Holly Ellis) is well designed, as is the sound (Tingying Dong). The audience seating is arranged like opposing church pews facing off against each other, with the performance space in the middle. Director Anastasia Bruce-Jones does a tremendous job in moving the cast around this space for the benefit of all the audience. The set comprises of a couple of small tables and chairs with a black rubbish bag sitting centre stage.
Adeline Waby as Francine drives the action along and is strongest in the opening interview scene. I would like her to have slowed down her delivery ever so slightly, to avoid crucial words not being picked up. Madison Clare is her sidekick Marla, her facial expressions and comic timing were spot on. She was the highlight of the show for me and the story detailing her mother’s demise and explaining her crush on Captain Birdseye were a delight. Helena Antoniou as Barney/Belinda makes up the trio. She is a complex, multi-layoured character that you can’t quite make out. What exactly is her story and why does she wear a turtle neck in hot weather? A very interesting and solid performance.
Cat Kolubayev has written an extremely funny piece that keeps you guessing and you can’t help but be drawn in by the plot. Only in the second scene, did I feel that the pace dipped slightly.
I’m not the greatest fan of black comedy and I worried that this might be distasteful. Instead I found it rather charming and yet slightly unsettling at the same time.
Here we witnessed an example of excellent team work. Every single member of the crew and cast did their job with flair and precision timing, in a very slick production.
I’m off to buy some vegetables from a Lincolnshire farm, I hear they taste great.
Reviewed by Chris White
Photography by Lidia Crisafulli
Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 12th December 2019
“This is a play that will move you as well as warm your heart this Christmas”
When you think of theatre during the festive season, a play about a junior doctor’s experiences around this time of year may not be one of the first things that comes to mind. Tania Amsel has written, and is the sole performer in, Blood Orange, which centres around Amy as she works in Swansea A&E on Christmas Eve.
Amy has been out for drinks with her colleagues the night before which ended with her vomiting over the shoes of a surgeon she is clearly in awe of. She then has to deal with the shame of this the next day, whilst seeing to an array of patients including a man dressed as Santa who quite literally got stuck in a chimney. Here, it’s not hard to feel empathy for Amy, whilst laughing at some of the situations she finds herself in.
One patient, a young boy with cancer, strikes a chord with Amy and we see her enter into a mild panic, but it isn’t clear why at this point. With time, we learn that this particular patient has brought back childhood memories, with a trip to London for an interview at Great Ormond Street Hospital only strengthening her flashbacks.
Throughout the piece, lighting (Jamie Platt) and sound (Tingying Dong) prove highly effective. Everything from sounds of the hustle and bustle of a busy Oxford Circus to the intense lighting design when Amy is having flashbacks means we can engage well with the story.
On the subject of engaging well with the story, Tania Amsel’s performance style means we can do this without difficulty. She directly addresses the audience with ease, allowing us to connect with Amy and her experiences. It’s always interesting to see how one man/woman shows are delivered and Amsel’s energy and likability is proof that they can be a success. The fact the set includes only a fold up chair and what resembles the frame of a hospital screen is further testament to Amsel’s ability to consistently engage an audience.
In addition to shining a light on life as a junior doctor in the NHS, Blood Orange highlights what can happen when the pressures of a job become too much and a person’s personal and professional lives collide. Directed by Hamish MacDougall, Amsel has created a likable character and tackles her subject matter with sensitivity, warmth and humour, along with bucket loads of energy. This is a play that will move you as well as warm your heart this Christmas.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Old Red Lion Theatre until 4th January
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: