The Wild Unfeeling World, VAULT Festival

by Joanna Trainor

“Call me Ishmael.”

There are storytellers, and then there’s Casey Jay Andrews. This is Moby Dick like you’ve never heard it before, but for an epic tale there’s something at the heart of The Wild Unfeeling World that is wholly relatable.

Cavern, by name as by nature, is arguably the most atmospheric venue at the VAULT festival, which is only helped by Rachel Sampley‘s stunning lighting design and smoke. It is the perfect place for Ahab the cat Captain to embark on a journey of revenge to destroy/maim his white whale, whilst also clearly being in a car park under the Heathrow flight path. Andrews makes the fantastical seem entirely plausible, so it’s easy for her to move us from one to the other.

Andrews’ use of language is outrageously good – it’s like reading an Exeunt review. Facts about whale sonar or finding patterns in nature are little nuggets of gold that she hands  us. It’s obviously an emotive story for Andrews, although she predicates the show by explaining she wasn’t sure how much of the piece would be fact or fiction when she started writing it, and the enormity of it isn’t lost on the room. There is one of those beautiful moments as it finishes, where the audience all had to take a second to remember to breathe before we started to applaud. Theatre can be bloody brilliant.

I can’t finish without asking who voices Captain Ahab? That cat has one hell of a stage presence. This is a leviathan of a story that lets you into a hugely personal experience, now how skilled is that?

The Wild Unfeeling World runs through 1 February.

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