On entering the Royal Vauxhall Tavern you become aware of four figures with white faces and dark eyes, not dissimilar to early expressionist films, conjuring up images of Tim Burton films and slightly nightmarish ideas. Like the dreams you have after a particularly interesting night out, made all the more uncanny due to one of the actors having a startling resemblance to an ex. Moving to the nostalgic and haunting music of the 1920s, relationships are subtly shown between the extravagant dancer, conservative observer, nonchalant, and nervous young man. As a kind of pre-show amuse-bouche, I was intrigued as to what the rest of the show would entail, and what new ideas may come of it.
However, from there on, the piece disintegrated. The first act, an ‘exorcism’ it said in the blurb, appeared to be a kind of facial expression exercise I had done at college, the actor twisting and contorting to create the most interesting faces, but without any real reason. Somewhat amateurish, I felt it lacked depth – what could have been a dark insight into a tormented show became a man pulling facing and making occasionally crude gestures as he switched personalities. Credit must be given as he did shift wildly from aggressive Northerner to suggestive American woman with surprising ease, but it did not seem to push the piece in any particular direction.
The second performance began well enough, with demur characters moving through the audience carrying a coffin as we were encouraged to throw confetti on the wake. But a series of technical errors left a lot to be desired as the silent movie featuring Miss Carrota and Lady Pumpernickel’ depended almost entirely on the timing of the music. The actors must be applauded for their courage and attempts to continue when things beyond their control went wrong, but in this case the play must not go on and I was left disappointed and somewhat befuddled as they called off the show and pointed us in the direction of the bar.
I cannot fully judge the performance, as I did not in fact get to see it in its entirety and working to plan. I can, however, say that there is a lot of potential and creativity within [RE:artzzZ], and it definitely brings new ideas to the table. I’m sure that, had the technical side of things not failed so miserably, it would have been a unique piece. I can only hope that anyone who goes to see it in future is given something a little more polished so they can enjoy whatever it was they were trying to convey.
[RE:artzzZ] presents Grindhouse was performed at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. For more shows and events at The RVT see their website.