This is a joyful delve into one woman’s life, celebrating the successes, the heartbreak, and everything in between. The audience feel part of a warm conversation that leaves them contented, and like they’ve just shared a cup of tea with an old friend.
The Vaults houses some of the most quirky and innovative new work on the fringe scene, making it an ideal host for Eleanor Colville: Google Me, the first comedy show written by an algorithm-generating, quick-witted robot.
Yes, this is my first time in Dingle – no, I’ve not been out on the peninsula yet and yes, I’ll make sure to say hello to Fungie. The next thing I know we’re splitting a bag of Taytos with the row in front and cheering along to a traditional song that has risen up. And the play hasn’t even started yet.
For newly formed theatre company Afkar, their debut play is a strong and creative response to Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism in modern-day Britain, but not something extraordinarily fresh or unique. Drawing from duplicate Orientalist accounts by Western men of Kuchuk Hanem – a famous dancer in Egypt in the mid-nineteenth century and subsequent symbol of the male Orientalist gaze – the play draws interesting parallels between Victorian depictions of Middle Eastern women and the lived experience of these women today.
Slick, smart and penetrating: Sophia Capasso’s play provides an incredibly strong performance of psychological terror that leaves hearts racing to the rhythm of her words. The story of young Ali’s cyclical descent into trauma – with the end of the play neatly bringing us back to its opening sequence – is told with not just fervent passion, but striking dramatic professionalism.
Within the first few lines we are promised “fully clothed catharsis”, and for Cameron, Carl, and Phil, this can’t come soon enough. The topics of masculinity and body image within the gay community are rife with misconception and misunderstanding, not least because for decades no one has talked openly about them. Now, in the age of Grindr and Instagram, where men are bombarded with images of washboard abs and profile bios loudly declaring “no fats, no femmes, no Asians”, it’s understandable that gay men are struggling under the weight of the pressure they put on each other and themselves. Cameron, Carl, and Phil want that to change.
In my experience of being a woman in her late 20s, I’ve had a boring revelation that some still feel it’s necessary to question whether I’ll have babies. I was almost late to Push as I had to spend some time un-rolling the eyes from the back of my head, as seconds before I entered the auditorium, I’d seen targeted adverts asking if I wanted to freeze my eggs. One moment you’re watching a cat video, the next you’re wondering if you should put the fruits of your ovaries into a big fridge. Not cool.
In a manic pre-show ‘welcome’, Nathaniel Hall greets the audience with recently sniffed white powder falling down his face, dressing gown on, and in a bedroom strewn with the detritus from a recently concluded party. He’s overslept and he’s addressing his post-party headache with a heck of a lot of cocaine. It’s alarming.
‘We’re not in the Vauxhall Tavern anymore are we, Toto?’
What starts off as a razzle-dazzle cabaret musical, full of mockery of his ever-so-gay charm, darling, and name-in-lights showbiz dreams, Simon David’s play soon becomes a deeply personal meditation on life, death and art, often jutting between extremes before we even know it.
“We’re going to go with intuition”, Ruby Wednesday tells a lady from Chiswick, as ambience-maestros Yoshi peel out the start of a haunting, rhythmic dive into minor keys and mayhem. Returning to VAULT Festival after a break-out 2019 run, The Feathers of Daedalus have taken Tarot up a notch, blending their signature circus and dance performances with audience readings and a soul funk soundtrack with climaxes a-plenty.