Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone is a co-production of five short plays from Les Foules and the MKA theatre of new writing. As part of the Vault Festival, the show is here for a short run until Sunday 15 February only.
The Vaults is rather, as my friend described it when we walked in, the definition of twenty-first century London. Well, maybe 2015 London, anyway. It’s a bit grungy, a bit edgy and a little hipster – essentially a wannabe Shoreditch, with theatre instead of deep house music. However, it’s also kind of charming and with tickets starting at just £5, I’d recommend a visit.
So, here we have five short plays from Tobiar Manderson-Galvin, sandwiched together to make Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Except, despite being described as “dystopian parables”, I’m not sure they can be called short plays. It feels more like five situations, or ideas – five monologues at best.
We have the woman who wants to be a horse, a beauty queen’s stand-off, a woman working for Fountain of Youth Ltd, a Jack the Ripper experience and finally number five or, as I will rename it, the one where it all gets a bit meta. The majority of the show is made up of long chunks of monologues sprinkled with the odd gag or social observation and, while enthusiastically performed, I found that the actresses do not always carry you with them all the way through. You get lost in the wordiness of it all. The performances ever so slightly misses that knack of making the audience hang on to their every word.
The trouble time and time again with plays like this – plays which consist of a jumble of ideas stuck together – is that there is just no plot. There is no central strand tying everything together, and no narrative. In my mind it just doesn’t work, because for all the quips and faux provocative statements, there is a distinct lack of substance. It’s a mishmash with a lack of real drama.
Having said that, there were moments that decidedly shine through. The ‘Jack the Ripper’ piece is a two-hander that leaves me wanting more; it has narrative and more importantly is funny. Throughout, there are strong performances from Nadege Adlam and Norma Butikofer. I enjoyed the self-pronounced coup de theatre of the final act, but felt we rather laboured through the first half to get to it.
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone played at The Vaults as part of the Vault Festival from 11 – 15 February. For more information, see the Vault Festival website. Photo by Alex Brenner.