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Review of Vault at The Old Vic Tunnels: Don’t Stray From The Path and The Furies

Heritage Arts has programmed a three week run of new theatre in the latest part of The Old Vic Tunnels to be opened to the public. Here I review two very different shows from the opening night.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Wonder Club Dont Stray from the path Vault Arts Heritage 2012
The Wonder Club. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

The dank brick arches beneath Waterloo have become something of a a destination du jour, thanks to The Old Vic‘s requisitioning of them. For Vault, Heritage Arts have been commissioned to fill a whole new section of arches that were until last week used as Network Rail storage – as evidenced by their utilitarian decor, constant temperature units and stacks of metal cabinets.

Wonder Club Dont Stray from the path Vault Arts Heritage 2012
We trotted along to the opening night of a month long run – booked in to see a couple of shows chosen by the PR from a smorgasbord of offerings. Having had no time to check the schedule these were destined to be a complete surprise! First up we were herded into an old office for Don’t Stray From The Path, an interactive performance from Bristol’s The Wonder Club. Things didn’t get off to a great start when an overly hammy young man started reading out texts written by the amassed crowd.

Wonder Club Dont Stray from the path Vault Arts Heritage 2012
This was to be an updated version of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, so we were then herded down the corridor to another room which had been set dressed beautifully, for the main part of the performance. It was here that The Wonder Club really lost me.

Wonder Club Dont Stray from the path Vault Arts Heritage 2012
Don’t Stray From The Path was a brave attempt to pull off an oh so trendy promenade style performance, but it became marred by confusing and pretentious dialogue, over the top acting and mediocre circus skills (it seems everyone wants to hang from a rope these days, maybe we’re all channelling our inner monkey). A shame, as there were some promising ideas here.

The Furies Vault Arts Heritage 2012
Luckily our second pick of the night turned out much better, even though we were completely unprepared for the onslaught that was The Furies. Initial thoughts? That we had been ushered into a heavy metal gig, with musicians thrashing on raised podiums. I was about to take an immediate exit (thinking this was not really the place for a heavily pregnant lady) when our meandering crowd was casually joined by three very different singing sirens, intent on updating the Greek myth of Clytemnestra in dramatically contemporary form.

The Furies Vault Arts Heritage 2012
For an hour they sung and posed and freaked out male members of the audience (again, participation reins supreme for this standing only show). In a nod towards differing expectations of gender the ladies were packaged as opposing extremes; a spindly blonde emphasised her protruding backbone, the redhead made the most of her curvy figure in an elegant bustier, and powerful androgyny was emphasised beneath a heavily fringed black wig. The Furies are a Birmingham based Kindle Theatre female company comprised of Emily Ayres, Samantha Fox and Olivia Winteringham, who have set out to challenge normal concepts of theatre: the result was an unashamedly confident rock opera that drew on classical stories and perceptions of the feminine. The Furies is an acquired taste musically but it was certainly compelling – with startlingly powerful vocals from the redhead.

The Furies Vault Arts Heritage 2012
After we emerged we were directed to the cabaret space, where the band were facing opening night sound difficulties, to the extent that half an hour later we decided to brave the sudden snow flurries and head home. It was in this chilly arch that the recent vacation of Network Rail was most obvious, with it retaining a cold and uninviting air that a drink from the makeshift bar did little to thaw. It’s a shame it could not have been decked out with a bit more finery, but I presume this will come with time.

Vault continues until the end of the month. Check the Vault Festival website for details of upcoming shows.


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One Response to “Review of Vault at The Old Vic Tunnels: Don’t Stray From The Path and The Furies”

  1. Adam says:

    Dont stray from the path was terrrrrrrrrrrrible. Worst thing I have seen for a long time. What struck me most was their commitment to not creating any kind of atmosphere. Little red riding hood it a fairly dark and perverse story…none of that came across…. it was just opportunity for the ‘actors’ to have fun doing madcap performances.

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