Review: Body Talk, VAULT Festival

There is an abundance of theatre documenting the Queer experience at the Vault Festival and Body Talk brings us a vibrant and positive production sharing a range of issues underlying what it means to identify as a gay man in contemporary society. We are presented initially with three very alternate body types, shirtless on stage. While these three Queer bodies vary greatly, I would be intrigued to see how more representations of BAME and trans bodies might elevate the play. The theme of exposure underlines this performance, as we are wrapped in a glowingly fun experience.

The show is clean and expressive. The raw set lends itself to the minimalist staging as the actors shine in the space. The three actors work intimately as an ensemble, flicking between characters and always forward facing in a slick punchy fashion. Soliloquy thrives in this piece. They speak their truth to us, which is stylistically perfect in the intimate Crypt of the Vaults Festival. Each character is distinct and realistic, posing another issue of the gay experience with compassionate clarity. Mark Phillip Compton portraying Dominic Jones’ concerned mother figure is convincing enough to wash the audience over in a delicate hush. 

Prop comedy is questionably unnecessary at times and this performance is by no means hysterical, yet it treats triggering content with a delicate humour which blossoms through David Hendon’s writing. Taofique Falorin’s grin and side glances are enticing beyond belief. The three spin characters and drive the narrative with a consistently smooth pace. 

This piece covers a diverse array of issues ranging from alcoholism to the fear of ageing which entwine the characters throughout the duration of the performance. Discussions of bulimia nervosa, suicide and homophobic abuse are limited however, and barely skim the surface. Regardless of the high fatalities associated with eating disorders, the simple act of telling another human being seems to cure the character of Carl’s struggle. I would be inclined to believe that deeper exploration into the dangers of eating disorders may create more compelling work, as this production seems to gloss over depth in order to move onto covering the next big issue. While this performance certainly opens up many discussions, there is no apparent pragmatism which would infer thoughtfulness in the engagements with such discourse. The characters find resolution which is arguably unsatisfactory and short term. I urge for greater development of similar narratives.

While this production is by no means ground-breaking, it is certainly charming.

Body Talk played the VAULT Festival until 2 February. For more information and tickets, visit the VAULT Festival website.