Caceroleo, VAULT Festival

by Laura Kressly

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the theatre industry interrogated rehearsal room dynamics and called for them to become ‘safe spaces’ where people are free from abuse. Whether or not productive change has actually occurred is up for debate, but this show proclaims that the concept of a safe rehearsal is highly subjective – what is safe for one person may not be for another. In this energetic and highly sensorial piece, actor/writer Rhys Hastings considers how growing up in an abusive home impacts all aspects of his life, including his acting work.

Video, which plays a prominent role in the show, often depicts moments from an acting class helmed by Daniel York Loh’s formidable alter-ego, master teacher Daniel York Lucas. These filmed scenes share time with Hastings’ account of life with an abusive father and navigating the heteropatriarchy as a man. His trauma causes him to obsessively revisit defining moments of his life where he witnessed violence against women. Often Hastings’ frank narrations are juxtaposed by cheery footage of landscapes and animals, effectively showing just how grotesque the systemic misogyny is that Hastings asks men to challenge.

Hastings has a confident but non-confrontational energy that makes him immensely watchable. He uses this to his advantage when repeating ‘jokes’ from men he’s worked with – his uncomfortable delivery highlights just how accepted these moments are, particularly when no one challenges the original speaker. Though the acting class video footage compliments him well, it takes up a lot of stage time where he often waits and watches – it’s a bit of a shame that he’s not more integrated into these moments. Also, as the piece progresses, it becomes more about his trauma and less about the concept of safe spaces. Whilst this is not a problem, even though they’re related these two messages don’t dialogue with each other as fully as they could.

Despite these issues, the production is uncompromising and bold. Hastings uses meta-theatre particularly well. It’s feminism that puts the onus on men to make change rings loud and clear – also a trademark of director Nastazja Domaradzka. Whilst there’s scope for further development, the bones of the piece are strong and it shows great potential as a piece of political theatre.

Caceroleo runs through 29 January.

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