Hølìdåÿ, VAULT Festival

by Laura Kressly

Many of us crave the escape from mundane routine that a holiday abroad gives us. Sun, sand, great food and immersion in different cultures are all wonderful experiences – usually. There absolutely can be downsides. Using clowning and mime, David Hoskin presents the annoying (sunburn and fellow travellers), the uncertain (whether or not a dubious-looking meal will hurt you), and the down-right strange and terrible (getting stranded in the woods and threatened by wild animals). Hoskin’s physical performance is exceptional, though the narrative’s shift into the surreal is less effectively conveyed than other parts of the story.

The physical language employed draws on traditional physical theatre and mime techniques, such as those taught by Lecoq. Hoskin makes them look effortless throughout his main character’s journey, and his depictions of the wide array of people he meets along the way. Lighting and clown-speak effectively support his physicality in conveying the plot, though there are some moments where further clarity would be beneficial. This is particularly the case towards the end. Apart from a chair, there are no set or props – nor are any needed due to the high level of skill in the performance.

As well as being impressive, the show is also immensely funny. Drawing on contemporary stereotypes from British life as well as the sort of folks encountered when travelling – like having fair skin not used to sun, and hench surfer dudes – creates a recognisable world that bland everyman Mr Pottle must navigate. Vintage voiceovers periodically narrating the contents of a holiday brochure round out the effect. Given all of these strong points, a bit more dramaturgical work would make this production even better.

Hølìdåÿ runs through 12 March.

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