Coming Out Of My Cage (and I’ve been doing just fine), VAULT Festival

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by Matthew McGregor-Morales

Memes, mysteries and musical showboating – the indie karaoke anthem gets a very British tribute.

Tim and Hannah really want it all, so they pack nostalgic pleasure points, one after the other, into their tribute to the Killers’ breakthrough 00’s anthem. “Mr Brightside” hit the UK charts 16 years ago and it hasn’t left since, setting sweaty dancefloors, muddy fields and plush, well-lit living rooms into a comparable frenzy. And those are just my memories.

Shepard Tone have produced an irreverent celebration of the iconic song, committed to showing and telling the Brightside story through mysterious Youtube uploads, blatant Facebook stalking, and mystery Northern singers. The show is a medley of reference points and faces, jumping from mime, to true crime podcast, to meme curation in quick succession.

Interspersed by two-piece acoustic renditions (reminiscent of the recorder cover of “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic), the audience are heaved along on a journey of discovery and other people’s memories, culminating in a group re-imagining of a pub in Ireland and the uncovering of a Rotherham folk hero. Tim and Hannah weave these narratives together bravely, committing themselves with eager heart and soul, and ask no less from the others in the room.

The Pit, with its vaulted subterranean arches and two-step thump of the trains above, is  an ideal space for all this chaos, and Shepard Tone used it to their advantage as they project truths over rough, dusty brickwork. Through the ups, the downs, and the dark sides in between, Tim and Hannah tell a story of hope winning against despair, destiny trumping adversity, and cages being very useful.

It is fresh, personal and authentic. Two budding storytellers lean on a bigger third to find their blockbuster moment, one that is mirrored across narratives and, finally, by the audience themselves.

Coming Out of My Cage (and I’ve been doing just fine) runs through 16 February.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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