Review: Pufferfish, VAULT Festival

Pufferfish is a complex, nuanced, deeply disturbing play about Jeffrey Dahmer and his crimes at the VAULT Festival

“Him…noticing me”

The necessities of quick get-ins and -outs at the VAULT Festival means that not unreasonably, many a show’s design has relied upon easily packable archive boxes. Clearly, Charlotte Espiner didn’t get the memo as her design for Pufferfish makes for hugely impressive impact on entrance to the Cage with its suspended marble effect torsos and plinth.

Nick Bruckman’s play (of which I was allowed to attend a preview) takes a riveting and spine-chilling fresh look at Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer responsible for the death and dismemberment of 17 young men in the 1980s. Pushing past lurid headlines, Pufferfish seeks to try and understand something of the man as well as the murderer, delving deep not only into his psychology but into that of his victims too. Continue reading “Review: Pufferfish, VAULT Festival”

Review: Inside Pussy Riot, Saatchi Gallery

“Failure to do this will result in your fellow inmates being punished”

How far can immersive theatre push you? How far should immersive theatre push you? The disclaimer for Les Enfants Terribles’ Inside Pussy Riot warns us it is “not for the faint hearted, come prepared to demonstrate and stand up for what you believe in!”. But given that it is trying to give audiences a taste of what it is like to be on the wrong side of a totalitarian regime, from arrest to trial to incarceration with a bit of forced labour in there for good measure, there’s a limit to how far they can actually go.

Marking the 100th annversary of the Russian Revolution, Inside Pussy Riot revisits the experience of Nadya Tolokonnikova and her post punk, feminist art collective colleagues in Pussy Riot, who were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment for performing less than 40 seconds of an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral. From the opening moments when you’re invited to pick a balaclava (a range of colours available) to the climactic encouragement to raise your voice in protest, there’s quite the journey ahead. Continue reading “Review: Inside Pussy Riot, Saatchi Gallery”

Review: Scarlet, Southwark Playhouse

“Let’s face it babes, you did kind of bring it on yourself”

We could all be Scarlet. A confident university student who knows what’s what and what she wants, her life is turned upside down after the consequences of a night’s heavy drinking are splashed across the internet without her consent. This video was posted by a nerdish man she previously turned down and its sexually explicit content has huge ramifications for Scarlet, not least in the course of action it leads her to take, as told in the world premiere by Theatre Renegade, currently playing in The Little at the Southwark Playhouse.

The world of sexual politics has a new frontier to deal with in the age of social media and this is what Sam H Freeman’s first play deals with in an engaging and essential way. The company of four actors all take on the role of Scarlet at one point or another, sharing her story and her experiences, but also questioning and interacting with each other. Splitting the narrative this way also throws up questions of how we are with the world around us, as each performer also plays the supporting characters in this story – or at least Scarlet’s versions of them.  Continue reading “Review: Scarlet, Southwark Playhouse”