Review: RSC's The Alchemist, Swan Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
Watching a work in progress: Unreachable, Royal Court

Review: Theatre in the dark with CUT, The Vaults, Waterloo

Hannah Morris in CUT at The Vaults, Waterloo

Hannah Norris starts Duncan Graham's play CUT with smiley pre-flight style safety announcement.  There are going to be a complete blackouts so there are things we should and shouldn't do. 

Blackout is an accurate description. It is so dark you can't tell the difference between having your eyes open or closed. The only points of reference are sound and you can't hear Hannah Norris move so you don't know where she is going to be when the lights come back on. With the sound of trains rumbling above your head, you feel the weight of the space in the darkness, you feel contained.

I thought it would be unnerving, perhaps a bit scary. I don't like the dark (light pollution is my friend) but here I wasn't scared at all. It was something else but I'll come onto that.

In between the dark spells you get snatches of stories. An air hostess is stalked, there is a house and a woman with scissors and two children inflicting cruelty onto a fish they've caught. There are objects or aspects in each that connect them. There is a nastiness. Are they one person's story? Is part of someone's imagination? 

Given the dark spells, mixed with clever lighting (and clever use of cling film), the stalker story should have been chilling. She describes looking out her window into the dark and seeing: 'Bin. Bin. Bin. Man' which would normally send chills down my spine but it didn't.

The abstract nature of the story left me feeling like I'd missed something fundamental, that perhaps I'd nodded off at one point (I hadn't).  There was too much I didn't get like why she puts a pair of tights on her arms and tucks her dress into her pants. The periods of darkness with the searing sound scape over the top started to get tiresome after a while.

CUT gets points for the concept, performance and design but the actual play left little mark. In fact I walked out feeling just as much in the dark as I was when I was sitting in the complete blackout. I'm giving it two stars - it's won awards elsewhere so what do I know? It's 60 minutes long and is on at The Vaults until 31 July.