Simon Ward reviews On The Crest Of A Wave at Vault Festival
I don’t know how much theatre, if any, went on in the air raid shelters of WWII, but this show in The Cavern theatre at The Vaults delivers a convincing impression of what it would have been like. Up to and including the draconian marching orders issued to the audience with the cast barely off the stage, and indeed wondering if they dare milk one more bow.
Seasoned London theatre-goers will be familiar with the occasional rumble of a tube train at inopportune moments, but here it’s practically a character in its own right, heroically ignored by our cast.
So, the scene is set. We are at the seaside, Hastings, perhaps, where our narrator (Camilla Whitehill) was brought up. A multi-talented crew take us through a musical and emotional journey which left us all, audience and cast alike, wiping away the tears.
Including audio clips of an interview with the narrator’s real-life father, this is a meditation on the power of storytelling to deal with issues which might otherwise seem too difficult to talk about. The inspiration for the piece is a photograph of her grandmother in her prime, in the sea, full of life. A photograph which seems to belie the fact that her father has barely talked about her, apparently because she died when he was just ten years old and this was a time when people didn’t talk about such things.
The setup is extremely promising. I could have happily had an evening’s confessional just with our heroine.
Instead the scope broadens and we are presented with three stories of childhood, parenthood and loss, as each cast member in turn takes the lead – Luke Courtier cuts a tragi-comic figure as Miss Preston 1959; Ste (Stephen Myatt-Meadows) convinces as a contestant in Junior Stars In Their Eyes; Kat (Kathryn Bond) leads a collaborative piece about dealing with loss, which, though winningly performed, felt like it belonged in a different show.
There is much to enjoy here. The actors display great versatility and talent. I laughed a lot. I cried more than once. It is a thought provoking, heartwarming and challenging show. It is like a warm oasis in the maelstrom of The Vault Festival. My only complaint is that I felt like it could have delivered even more.
On the Crest of a Wave plays at Vault Festival until 19th February 2017
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