Pros: Excellent performances by the three cast members.
Cons: The ending is a bit of a damp squib.
So the Vault Festival is in full swing beneath Waterloo station. With its interesting spaces and buzzing atmosphere it is well worth a visit. Looking at the eclectic mix of shows available you will surely find something that takes your fancy. With some planning it may even be possible to see more than one per visit. But one of the problems of having so much going on simultaneously in the confined space is that occasionally sounds from other productions leak in. The way that Blue Departed deals with this is to pretend the shouting is from some of the unfortunates in one of the levels of Hell that addict ‘Him’ ( Mark Conway ) is passing through.
A dead pigeon and the description of a dog biting off Him’s finger sets the grossness level, as promised in the blurb. Him is in the flat with girlfriend Her (Rebecca Layoo) who is curled up on the floor. When His Brother (Richard James Clarke) arrives and starts gagging we get an idea of how long she must have been lying there. (Grossness was promised after all). His Brother is not an addict and provides the anchor to reality.
Through a series of flashbacks and hallucinations Him and Her’s love story is revealed. There are some amusing moments, many poignant ones and the narrative captures the desperation well. Effective lighting, sound effects and really dark music help with the feeling that everything is closing in on Him. Meanwhile His Brother attempts to steer Him through the levels of Hell, keeping Him out of sight during the wake – which is being held in a casino for some reason – and reminding Him that everyone can hear what he is saying during his stream of consciousness outpourings, delivered at inopportune moments.
The three-strong cast give excellent performances, using the really effective set to its full advantage. It is a very interesting study of addiction, although somewhat relentless; any longer than an hour in the same style would have been too much. I am sure we will be seeing a lot more from writer Serafina Cusack.
Author: Serafina Cusack
Director: Henry C Krempels
Producer: Anima Theatre Company in collaboration with Good Wolf
Box Office: 0208 050 9241
Booking Link: https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/blue-departed/
Booking Until: 27 January 2019