Week 1 was a spectacle and Week 2 successfully followed up. But what about Week 3 of VAULT Festival 2018? Theatre Editor Daniel Perks looks back on the latest round of shows to enter into the subterranean depths:
It’s the third part of a trilogy. The first two were successful, so there’s no reason to think that this week was going to be any less so, right? Right! It feels as though VAULT Festival 2018 is now really getting into its stride.
In Weeks 1 and 2, we at Miro saw nine productions and profiled 19 on our website. We’ve had four ★★★★☆ shows, two of which were our shows of the week – Great Again: The Musical in Week 1 and Madonna Or Whore in Week 2.
So, now it’s the turn of Week 3. Out of the possible 55 different shows, performed 220 times in the 11 different spaces, let’s recap Miro‘s thoughts about the five seen in Week 3:
Coming To Terms
In Week 3, we caught shows that predominantly revolved around reflection and rumination of situations that can affect one’s mental state in a myriad of ways. In Be Prepared, writer and one-man performer Ian Bonar looked to come to terms with his character’s grief, as he narrates Tom’s memories of his father in an attempt to reconcile his death. It’s based on Bonar’s personal experiences. As theatre journalist Hatty Uwanogho notes,
“He admits that he tried to forget the day his dad died. He appears vexed not to be able to recall his father by that most evocative of senses – smell. As that particular smell memory returns to him towards the end of the play, you believe that he is beginning to turn the corner in his trauma. It must be healing to talk about his father, especially within the context of another man’s funeral.”
It seems as though Be Prepared lacks impacts however, a show that needs pairing back to become more powerful through effective simplicity.
Clarity with confusion
The Poetry We Make similarly falls foul of needing some more concrete structure through clarity and transparency. This is a coming to terms production for ex-girlfriend Elliott (Elena Voce), who discovers that her partner Robin (Elijah W. Harris) is transitioning from male to female after their split. Our journalists at Miro comment,
“The performance achieves a nice balance between poignancy and humour”…”Writer Jaswinder-Blackwell Pal is careful not to put blame on anyone – Robin is still trying to piece everything together, Paul and Elliot are still trying to work out how to move on. That too, the playwright suggests, is okay.”
It seems here as though both shows explore grief in different ways – the loss of a relationship, either familial or romantic, is something to be mourned regardless of how it happened.
Acceptance of identity
Be Prepared and The Poetry We Make both tackle grief, for which the final stage is acceptance. But unlike these two, Sophia Del Pizzo is not dealing with a loss, but rather than embracing something that is a part of her. Assmonkey is the name she gives her anxiety as she tries to reason with it, or at the very least understand it. Theatre editor Daniel Perks writes:
“Assmonkey: In Conversation is one of these homegrown style of comedy narratives, with some character work showcasing Del Pizzo’s versatility and a bit of multimedia to break up the action. It’s a show that cannot possibly offend, both because of Del Pizzo’s natural likeability and her somewhat self-deprecating attitude.”
The beauty of Assmonkey is that it reminds us we are not alone in feeling this way, feeling as though we have a conflicting voice in our heads that every so often takes control and skews with our decision making. Of all the characters that Del Pizzo shrouds herself in, the most tender moments of this show are the ones when she is vulnerable as herself.
Show of Week 3
The Miro Show of Week 3 goes to Think Of England, which Theatre Editor Daniel Perks describes as,
“a clever look behind the rosy curtain of wartime camaraderie and jollity” and “a show full of gumption and chutzpah, one that also unmasks the ugliness of humanity because of the ugliness of war”.
Throughout Think Of England, we sit in the Cavern of The Vaults and cower as if it really were the Blitz. But we can either be scared or we can have a party. Bette and Vera lead us in a merry dance, rousing and heart-warming tales of troupes fighting and women rolling up their sleeves, happy to muck in wherever they can and get spirits up. Madeleine Gould’s clever script brings out the seediness of the soldiers, who think they can claim anything for their own because of their service to society. Her performance fills us all with passion and fire, until we realise Vera’s transgressions and shady secrets.
Director Tilly Branson intelligently teases out subtle interplays between all the characters in Think Of England. This tea dance is jam packed full of intention and subtext.
The VAULT Festival runs until 18 March 2018. For the full programme of events, visit the website here.