A Year From Now, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Jo Trainor

“Two or three people with guitars call themselves a band, they’re a group!”

Red Belly Black Theatre Company asked fourteen people where they think they’ll be a year from now, and have used their voices to create an hour of witty, beautiful and moving theatre.

Lip-synced verbatim is a new experience for this reviewer, and if you’re not used to it there is a brief moment where you need to get on board with the style. Luckily Red Belly Black are so precise with their movements and mannerisms that it’s impossible not to love A Year From Now.

Clementine Mills is particularly magnetic as an elderly man, looking forward to simply still being here in a year’s time. The whole shape of her face changes as she breathes, pauses and moves like we imagine him. The only let down of the whole performance is that Mills isn’t on stage more. And Kate Goodfellow’s performance as Gordy the four-year-old, who aspires to drive green racing cars, is just the most joyful experience to watch.

Going into A Year From Now it’s easy to forget how gripping a piece of verbatim theatre can be. The question of “Where do you see yourself a year from now?” isn’t necessarily an emotive one, but some of the responses will have you blubbering. Christopher Montague and Jessica Warshaw’s joint performance of a comedian who recently lost his mother is all kinds of heartbreaking. But just the words of the fifteen-year-old girl going about her daily life, and having to worry about how good her eyebrows are, or how flat chested she is, also packs a mighty punch. Oscar Scott-White might not have had to deal with making sure his eyebrows were on fleek or wishing for the boob fairy to visit when he was at school, but his conviction to the character would have you believing otherwise.

What’s most significant about the piece is that regardless of their situations, and some of these stories are from people who have been critically ill, is that most voices are upbeat about the year ahead. Montague and Warshaw’s comedian has such a positive outlook on life, that people should be celebrating the life his mother lived, not crying on him in the middle of conversations that you wish you had a more optimistic view on the world. At the end of the production Goodfellow makes a point of saying that all of the voices are known to the performers, so if you have any questions about what’s happened to them since you can ask the company. And after hearing their wonderful mix of stories, you definitely will have, so get asking!

A Year From Now runs through 29 February.

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