Tag Archives: The Vaults

“Little Write Lies” at the Vault Festival

With its nightclub vibe and efforts at subterranean cool, the Vault is not the most pleasant place to be on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon. But the aims behind the eponymous festival, located underneath Waterloo Station, are commendable, with a youthful feel and eclectic programme offering something for everyone.

Putting aside the comedy and music on offer, I chose three short plays, packaged as Little Write Lies, written in response to a festival highlight, Yve Blake’s Lie Collector. The pieces, all on the theme of deception, are a great opportunity to enjoy new writing and acting talent.

Doug Dunn’s Brixton Sunrise goes straight to the point, imagining a chance encounter in a McDonald’s, to show the lies ambitious Londoners tell themselves and others. The other two works suffer slightly from their aspirations – setting up more than can be delivered in such a short time. Tom Wright’s I, We, Me is the story of an online hook-up, full of disturbing twists, that leaves you wanting more. Victoria Gimby’s, Forget-Me-Not, tackling the subject of mental health, has a creepy edge that makes it cry out for elaboration.

All the acting is of a high standard. Catherine Dunne gives a nuanced performance as a world-weary young woman, developing her character with perfect pace alongside Shane Noone as an appealing road worker with hidden aspirations. Leonie Marzecki and Amy Murray give careful turns as potential lovers in Wright’s play, dealing skilfully with their multiple online personas. Gimby’s work is a good vehicle for the talents of Alex Khanyaghma and Sallyanne Badger, while Aaron Gordon adds a haunting presence.

Another trilogy is to be presented this Sunday, 1 March.


Photo by Jack Abraham

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at the Vault Festival

The latest incarnation of arty happenings underneath Waterloo station has started this week. The Vault Festival offers an inspiring array of theatre, comedy and club nights headed by productions of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The latter opened last night, with drug-addled gonzo journalism from the casino capital, adapted and directed reverentially by Lou Stein and sure to please the book’s many fans.

The production has plenty of invention; the cars driven and hotel beds debauched on are cleverly evoked and a sure highlight is the use made of Ralph Steadman’s magnificent artwork. It’s the real star here. The show includes never before seen works and embellishes Steadman’s vision with projection and animation. His drawings are an elaboration of the drug-induced mania Thompson’s alias Raoul Duke and his factotum Dr.Gonzo experience while reporting on the Mint 400 drag race and the District Attorney’s Narcotics Conference.

Strongly caricatured, pretentious commentators and aspiring prophets, the leading roles are thankless tasks for actors Ed Hughes and Rob Crouch. Hughes’ Duke is cleverly stilted, but the edginess that’s the result of all those drugs becomes, predictably, tiresome and while Crouch’s Gonzo is performed with great physicality the role itself is two dimensional. Various innocents, casualties to encountering Duke and Gonzo, are performed by an ensemble who work hard to be surreal and gurn plenty, but the outcome is too tame.

Thankfully, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is held together by John Chancer, who plays the role of narrator. Taking on Thompson’s authorial voice, Chancer is commanding and has grasped both the despair that gives the work some depth and the dead-pan quality of Thompson’s humour. Unfortunately, when he isn’t speaking there isn’t enough to take your mind off the make shift venue’s dreadfully uncomfortable seating or terrible sightlines.

The whole production should be more of an assault on the senses than it is and hopefully this can still be changed. It might be an idea to listen to Dr. Gonzo’s demand for “Volume! Clarity! Bass! We must have bass!”. There are moments in the second half when the projections become more immersive and it makes a big difference. But by then the mood is more thoughtful and we’re brought down before we’ve reached a high.

Until 8 March 2014


Photo by Nobby Clark

Written 31 January 2014 for The London Magazine