Best of VAULT Festival
Director: Joe Murphy
Writers: Tom Wells, Ella Hickson, Nick Payne
Music: Ed Gaughan
In order for theatre in the UK to survive there needs to be continued support for new and innovative writing. That seems like common sense but with so many revivals and long running musicals there isn’t always the space dedicated to giving new writing the platform it needs.
Not everyone has Nabokov in their corner who are ensuring that new works are brought to the stage and with a new show like SYMPHONY, three short plays from Tom Wells Jonesy, Ella Hickson A Love Song For The People of London, and Nick Payne My Thoughts on Leaving You, they are raise the stakes quite high.
Taking place at the 2014 VAULT Festival the audience enter the theatre with the actors already on stage playing music all dressed in blue boiler suits. These are removed when it is their turn to take the lead. Once everyone has taken their seats a nod here and there signals the start and a night of touchingly beautiful and powerfully frank plays.
As the lights come down Iddon Jones as Jonesy takes off his blue overalls revealing sportswear and in a flash we begin with Tom Wells monologue piece Jonesy. This powerful and heartfelt piece recounts 15 year old Jamie Jones Jonesy desire to complete his GCSE PE exam. However his debilitating asthma proves to be a harder challenge for him to overcome so he is forced to rethink his choices and so replaces rugby with Netball he hopes he will pass his final exam. This is followed by Ella Hickson romantic ode to the people of London A Love Song For The People of London. Alex, Adam Sopp - who falls for the girl of his dream whilst on his daily bus commute to work, however Rose, Remy Beasley, doesn’t quite find the same connection leaving Alex despondent. And closing the trilogy of plays is Nick Payne’s My Thoughts on Leaving You about the coming together of two people who meet by chance in the men's toilet and a relationship forms but is not to last. Payne’s writing is dark, and at times a little cruel, but wonderfully playful.
It is impossible not to fall in love with these three plays which showcase three very gifted playwrights who, even in short form, manage to create full, funny and diverse plays. In Jonesy Iddon Jones beautifully brings to life a character so well written ones sympathy and understanding is with him from the start. Jonesy's great determination is in itself something that leaves you rooting for this underdog. Wells writing is sharp, layered with some fantastic sporting references and a delightful childlike innocence with Jones masterfully capturing Wells characters purity.
"I think much more deeply about the importance of relationships between people on stage and off."
Hickson manages to convey both the monotony of life in the Big Smoke and how routine can stop any of us in our tracks. Alex and Rose could be any one of the millions of souls that live in London yet Hickson brings London to life in a fresh and unique way showing how London becomes a key player in our lives. Her gentle rhyming verse lifts the play further allowing a deeper connection between her two characters and the situation they find themselves.
The strengths of Nick Payne’s closing play lies in what it had hoped to find in the fragility of human connections. Sometimes in life we make mistakes that make it impossible to take back and through two strong-willed characters Payne gives a wonderfully comic depiction of the rise and fall of a relationship. Ed Gaughan's music is most effectively used in Payne's story and perhaps from the very start of the play his protagonist seems flawed and yet we still finds ourselves rooting for him. There is part of you that hopes that the ending would not be as frank as it is but it is the only way one can appreciate what we have lost by losing it.
Though each of the plays are quite different in their theme there is a remarkable thread that binds them together. This is no doubt aided by the actors themselves who effortlessly move around the stage bringing their multitude of characters to life with a convincing realism and emotion that is joyous to behold. And with all this they still manage to avoid turning
Symphony overly sentimental. The company have been guided well by director Joe Murphy who has risen to the task and faithfully brings originality and humour to three unique plays.
Ed Gaughan’s music creates a warmth that allows the actors to fill every inch of the stage with life that maintains the pace and keeps the plays connected and moving along seamlessly.
SYMPHONY is an unmissable gem of production filled with great heart, excellent comedy and fantastic music. The cast have little time to waste as they explore love, relationships, growing up and there isn't a moment the four-some don't captivate you.