If you’ve never visited the subterranean tunnels under the train tracks at Waterloo train station, then you’ve been missing out. From the buzzing, graffiti-adorned underpass, step into this hidden world of inventive and explorative theatre.
The Vaults annual festival is currently in full swing and with its rabbit warren of performance spaces and a cornucopia of shows there’s bound to be something to please everyone.
I went along to see V & V which explores the communication of courtship via the written word. In parallel stories we witness Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West and their handwritten letters, compared with the modern-day Lottie and Mia and their text messages. The first would have been a closeted passion, secret from society, although not necessarily from their husbands. The latter now largely accepted by society allows freedom from those earlier constraints.
Any written word, by its very nature, can be misconstrued by the recipient, potentially causing hurt or offence. As Virginia Woolf comments, perhaps if she wrote using coloured inks instead of black, this may help to add a further level of expression and clarify the feelings intended.
Virginia and Vita relied on missives sent in the post, and for anyone in the throes of romance, the delay of words from your object of desire is tortuous. Not so much for modern lovers in the age of the text message, where a delayed response can also be meaningful of itself. However, whereas writing a letter is a considered process, the convenience and speed of texts can accelerate matters. There is also the added issues of negotiating emojis, how many kisses are appropriate, and the pitfalls of sending provocative photos!
The two actors, EM Williams and Heather Wilkins, jump back and forth in time, enhancing the disparity of love in different eras, from the early stirrings, the culmination and the denouement of the relationships.
Both stories illustrate the excitement, frustration and eroticism of correspondence in a long-distance affair. The part about sexting had the audience laughing with, rather than at, the actors which suggests an element of empathy and that not everyone is as au fait with sexy digital flirting as we might imagine.
Text messages appear on stage via a screen while the actors voice their thought process before and after pressing ‘send’. This allows the performers to engage with the audience, as well as bringing an element of physical comedy into the mix.
The constant changing of gear as they alternate between stories highlights the differences but can also jar. Just as you ease into the rhythm of eloquent writing you are abruptly jolted into the more frenetic present day. That aside this is a fun and interesting piece and maybe just the ticket for a first date!
Written and Director by: Misha Pinnington
Music and sound by: Nicola Chang
Produced by: Sprezzatura Productions
Booking Link: https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/vv/
Booking Until: Sunday 8th March 2020