by Laura Kressly
VAULT Festival is a place to try new things. Experiment. Develop. Succeed. And fail.
Boy, does Say Something Happened fall into the latter of these aims. This revival of Alan Bennett’s short play – an odd programming choice for such an experimental festival – is a mere 45 minutes. But it feels like I emerge from the show several days later what with how shockingly terrible the performances are.
The three-hander about an idealistic social services worker interviewing an elderly couple for the council’s new register of OAPs probably has something to say about isolation of the elderly within local communities, and the divide between generations. But that’s all but lost within a pace and delivery more akin to a badly programmed robot than human speech.
The acting is either entirely over-egged or flat. The performer playing the council worker is unable to communicate anything resembling genuine human emotion – she pulls an array of faces instead, accompanied by speech so fragmented it’s nearly impossible to follow.The performers playing the older couple are marginally better, if only because they have fewer lines and less nervous dispositions. It’s a painful experience to endure.
The festival can certainly be hit and miss, especially with 400-odd shows spanning eight weeks. But Say Something Happened has missed by so far, it feels more like a poor amdram effort than a work trying to comment on any of the themes it addresses.
Say Something Happened runs through 4 February.