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London Fringe theatre news round up

Review: Dreamplay, The Vaults

I'm gathered with a crowd just outside one of the arches at The Vaults, some people are sat in deck chairs, a cellist is playing. Then a woman dressed in an oversized coat appears, unable to speak she lunges at people straining to vocalise her feelings, the sounds pleading, distressed, frustrated and sometimes aggressive. The audience shuffles awkwardly hoping not to have to meet her direct gaze.

We are then ushered into the arches to watch a 'girl' dressed in cycling gear vomiting into a toilet and calling for her mother to be let out, apologising for something she's done. Then we move to seats and a woman's movement is controlled by the cellist who has reappeared. The faster she plays the faster the woman has to move. It's one of the very few light moments in this play which, considering its title, could probably do with a few more.

There are other rooms and scenes to watch, sometimes you stand, sometimes you sit but all are loosely connected by a relentlessly depressing existential thread or so it seemed to me. Lots of looking, lots of doors, mentions of keys, some soul searching about life's expectations and disappointment accompanied by lots of arguing, shouting and sometimes ear-splitting screeching. Despite the pace of the performances it often feels like you have to linger too long before the slow shuffle towards the next instalment.

As it is a promenade performance the sight lines aren't always great unless you engineer a good spot for each scene. At times you might find yourself listening rather than watching. By the end, well a while before that, in fact probably when we were all sat on carpet in darkness with someone yelling at us, I just wanted to leave, wake up from the nightmare and move on.

The performers are all obviously talented but I'd much rather have seen them in something else. There are better, more engaging and more powerful plays than this. You can tell I didn't like it, can't you? Maybe you will but I'm giving it two stars.

It plays at The Vaults until 1 October and is roughly 90 minutes long.