In the current climate of cracking down on sexual predators in every industry, Conquest is an intricate tale that discusses the topics of consent and male entitlement. A timely, humorous look at feminism, period- shaming and the glaring issues of a patriarchal society, written by Katie Caden, and directed by Jess Daniels, it will make you laugh as well as think.
Taking place in The Pit, Alice (Lucy Walker- Evans) and Jo (Colette Eaton) take the stage, and we are straight in with a pacey, tongue-in-cheek mixture of direct address and multi-rolling. Caden’s writing is clever, and the amount of detail in each character is refreshing, especially as both Walker- Evans and Eaton even repeatedly swap characters. This avoids becoming completely confusing, which just goes to show their grasp on their craft, whilst also competing with the trains running overhead. Eaton’s straight- talking, deadpan brunette Jo is a complete contrast to Walker- Evans’ flighty and apologetic blonde Alice, a comment on the caricatures of women which society constantly perpetuates. These characters are given a subtext however, creating the chance for them to experience an effective journey arc throughout the piece.
This is a completely stripped back affair; the exposed brickwork of The Pit has a neon sign mounted on the back wall, displaying the name of the production. With a simple layout of two chairs on either side of the stage, as well as a microphone on each side, the props are in easy reach of the performers, enabling them to move seamlessly from scene to scene, as well as location to location. The lack of scenery gives Daniels and the performers the responsibility to be even more creative in their storytelling.
Discussing the topic of empathy, sympathy and the lack thereof, Caden intelligently suggests the reason why some people just do not understand the importance of equality for all. Every detail of this piece has a point, without doing it to death, keeping it interesting and possibly even educating the audience members who have less exposure to such themes, making it a production to be seen by all. The Vaults is a charming venue, providing a platform for new voices and important messages, for a very affordable price.
Conquest is playing at The Vaults until the 25 February 2018
Photo: The Vaults