Pros: Precision acting, a sharp script and a deft plot make this a hugely entertaining show.
Cons: Damp conditions and uncomfortable benches ensure you’ll be grateful when the curtain falls after only an hour.
The Pit theatre space in The Vaults isn’t an auspicious looking venue for entertainment. Smelling strongly of damp, with water visibly dripping down the back wall and with audience seating consisting of hard wooden benches, it’s far from being a comfortable theatrical experience. But this smart, elegant two-hander manages to overcome the comfort barrier with a witty, sparkling show that both entrances and horrifies its audience.
Stuart and Eleanor are two strangers who meet at a hotel reception desk. But they don’t behave like strangers: when Stuart asks Eleanor to put her cigarette out, she replies: “We’re in Europe. That’s the whole point.” To which Stuart counters: “We’re not in Europe. We’re in Wales.”
As it turns out they aren’t strangers at all, but two people brought together by their fondness for murder. And they’ve come to this remote hotel to get away from the pressure, from the threat of discovery: “We don’t know what’s going on, what they may have dug up,” says Stuart. To which Eleanor replies, “Because there’s nothing more suspicious than two strangers arguing in a hotel lobby.”
Other than their gruesome hobby, the pair have little in common. Stuart – punctilious, always planning ahead, but deferential – works in Rymans: “I’ve been in the same store for some years. It’s quite a stationery job.” Whereas Eleanor is from Boston, Massachusetts, of German extraction; she’s both proud and embarrassed to relate that her grandmother was in the Hitler Youth. Eleanor herself had a gerbil called Goebbels.
The subject of death keeps cropping up, despite the pair’s eagerness to keep a low profile. The hotel announcement system constantly makes cryptic allusions to death and injury, and the two can talk about little else. “The most thrilling part of life,” Eleanor opines, “is when it’s in jeopardy”. So when she’s refused a lift to the hotel by a local taxi driver who wants to get home to his dinner, she knows exactly how to take her revenge.
The present-day action is intercut with flashbacks to the pair’s first meeting, when they recognise in each other kindred spirits who share the same morbid fantasies – and go on to act them out.
Written and performed by Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson, this hour-long show is funny, poignant and at times shocking. Precision acting, a tight script and the most minimal of props make this a real delight, sure to entertain audiences.
Author: Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson
Director: Rosa Crompton
Producer: Over The Limit Theatre
Booking Until: 4 March 2017
Box Office: 07598 676 202
Booking Link: http://www.vaultfestival.com/event/siren/2017-03-04/