VAULT Festival 2018 Reviews

VAULT Festival 2018 Reviews

We bombarded your culture-loving minds with the A-Z of VAULT Festival 2018 – Our Top 33 Picks – and now we’re reviewing some of those very same shows for your delectation….

So, read on for our VAULT Festival 2018 reviews…

★★★★ Boys | 7-11 Feb | 19:30 | £14.50

A high-energy showcase of talented BAME young men.

This hour of macho physical theatrics and more intimate exposés about the young male condition felt like a showcase for up-and-coming acting talent.

The show was made up of intense choreographed sections interspersed with cheeky unexpected revelations from the cast’s past and present. Artistic Director Kane Husbands has worked wonders on this group of lads giving them the confidence and style to shine individually but also as a troupe.

The stand out actor was Dior Clarke, a down-to-earth-diva with a sassy swagger. It was sad that we haven’t been able to find a cast list online or elsewhere as these guys deserve an acting career and should be promoted as the key elements of the production. The sad truth is that if casting doesn’t change pretty sharpish, these lads won’t make the mainstream.

Overall, Boys feels a little like a drama game in a rehearsal room but at the same time a tight showcase of the promising talent of these young men. RD

★★★★ Dietrich: Natural Duty | 24-28 Jan | 19:45 | £11.50

Mild threat. Usually the warning film watchers may read when scanning the blurb on the back of DVD boxes. Though for me, it’s the feeling when approaching The Vaults from Lower Marsh, Waterloo. Passing graffiti artists at work, skirting pools of rainwater littered with empty cans and the uncertainty as I ask my self, ‘is this it?’

Inside the performance space, it was no less comforting. Weeks of wet weather was permeating the wall behind the stage, creating an effect that would cost a fortune to recreate and seemed somehow natural as a backdrop for Peter Green’s Dietrich.

Wearing a dress to die for, all silver pins catching the light just like the water dripping down the wall behind, Marlene told her life story (crabs-and-all), effortlessly and full of emotion, like it was his Natural Duty to do so.

There were parts of Marlene’s life story that I didn’t know, and found so beguiling I was googling like mad on the way home. Her time spent on the Front Line with the troops was astonishing and worthy of forming the basis of the performance. TP

★★★ VOID | 14 Feb-18 Mar | Times Vary | £13.50

A mediocre mismatch of style and substance.

RIFT’s freight container-based ‘immersive’ theatre experience, VOID, takes a high-concept staging conceit – “let’s send audience members, solo, into small, re-purposed spaces and let the story unfold around them” – and unfathomably applies it to an intimate, important and timely subject matter.

It should be lost on no-one that the ‘story’ – of harassment, abuses of power and gender – is very much the hot topic, and the two chapters of VOID each take sensitive yet challenging approaches to unpacking these pervasive issues.

Unfortunately, the mode of storytelling serves no obvious – certainly not essential – narrative purpose. Whether groping in the dark in a space not much larger than a wardrobe, or perched on a chair next to a mute painter of miniature figures, it almost feels as if you’re not supposed to be paying attention to the recorded, radio-play style stories being played through speakers.

There are undeniably important stories being told here, but they’re treated with something approaching disrespect by the staging. Equally, the staging concept could work impressively given more suitable subject matter, and more scope for audience interaction. Instead, it all just feels like an unfocused mess. SW

★★½ The Forest of Phantasmagorias | 15-16 Feb | 22:30 | £14.50

A drippy not trippy 45 minutes of WTF.

The show description reads: ‘A holographic phantasmagoria from the augmented dreamscape of Aves.’

Take a deep breath, and…

This description certainly suggested a mind-melting experience. What was presented in reality, was a rather strange two-some (Adeline Rozario and David Kerry) barely singing over some 90s NINTENDO64-style visualz projected on quite clever holographic gauze.

An unintentional highlight came when the show was abruptly stopped because a laptop got splashed with the water from the VAULTS’ cavernous ceiling. More intentional entertaining were the club style visuals (think a wolf, a Pharaoh). Perhaps this show would work better at 4am in Fabric (ok so we don’t know many proper clubbing haunts), but a sit down theatre show it ain’t! It was odd to be able to see the duo behind the gauze as the show’s ‘shamanic’ power came from the projections.

A lot of wailing and whacky demonic creatures later, the show was over and the audience felt duped. They had hoped for something marvellous and as often is the case, technology isn’t the answer.

Tinderdust (the folks behind this experience) were ambitious in their desire to create something euphoric but ultimately this holo-fest flat-lined at hollow. RD

★★½ Piñata | 18 Feb | 21:15 | £11.50

Silliness can be hilarious – but you still need quality control.

A performance party which aimed to ‘explore the depths of music, art and comedy’, Piñata didn’t so much explore as founder in the deepwater trenches.

Silly, absurd, surreal – call it what you like, this type of comedy certainly has its place and, when conceived and performed well, it can leave you laughing harder than anything else.

Alas, the trap with silly comedy is to think that quality control is unimportant. In fact, it’s perhaps more important than ever. There’s no hiding here – you either hit the collective funny bone or you don’t, and unfortunately, the Piñata crew seemed to be misfiring left, right and centre.

There’s an adage in film – or perhaps it’s just Mark Kermode – that when a cast say that they had a great time making a film, it often doesn’t translate across to the viewer. Perhaps a problem for Piñata is that the performers are clearly all enjoying themselves thoroughly – maybe a little more attention could be given to whether the audience is feeling the same way. It’s one thing to make yourself laugh, and yet another to make your friends chortle. To hit the spot for an audience of strangers requires more than a random-word-generator approach to writing material.

A few laughs here and there – mostly of the “what the hell is this?” variety – kept most of the audience from boredom, and the quick-fire pace and tight running time meant that Piñata didn’t outstay its welcome. But that’s pretty much the best that can be said for it. SW


Reviews by Rupert Dannreuther, Tony Pendleton & Stuart Wilson.
Stuart Wilson

About 

I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.