Greyscale, Vault Festival

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by Meredith Jones Russell

Lou and Jaz have met on Tinder and are going on a date. A simple premise, but in its use of different narratives, Greyscale highlights the complexities of relationships, sexual power and personal communication.

Walking through a variety of venues adjacent to the Vaults, the small audience (only 10 tickets are available per performance) is asked to vote on which character they would like to hear from first. After the first monologue, set in the lead-up to the date, the audience is invited to play voyeur as a number of peep holes in the custom-built house representing Jaz’s home provide a view of the date itself. Finally, the second character gives their take on the evening.

After hearing two sides of the same story, the audience is asked to vote anonymously on their responses to the story – who was right? Who was wrong? Who held the power?

It’s a concept made all the more powerful by its simplicity. In just half an hour, the production introduces two strangers and raises a wealth of questions and issues. The two actors are exceptional, nailing the naturalism, flexibility and easy likeability needed to interact so closely with an audience. The show rotates its cast throughout the run, offering versions with both straight and same-sex couples.

The writing is also excellent, allowing details about the characters and situation to sneak out gradually without ever becoming didactic or moralising about its subject matter, and throwing in enough nuance and doubt to stop the piece becoming cliche or old-hat. “I know I wasn’t raped,” says Lou at one point. As the title suggests, nothing about this piece is black and white.

The show is expertly marshalled by an anonymous host, who runs the audience votes and at the end invites them to stay on and talk more about what they have seen. There’s plenty to discuss.

An intimate and thoughtful consideration of relationships, power, sex and consent, Greyscale is a small but perfectly formed gem.

Greyscale runs through 17 March.

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