Hannah Goslin

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Review The Vagina Dialogues, The Volvas, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

We’ve all heard of the Vagina Monologues. While maybe a little dated , it is a key theatrical production in the history of performing arts for women and with International Women’s Day fast approaching, The Volva’s bring a freshened up version with The Vagina Dialogues.

These women are clever, talented and fierce. The are all able to play different characters, changing their voices, general approach to show this and so the transition between the scenes are flawless and easy; with minimum set as well, we are able to focus on the story and their performance rather than gadgets and gizmos.

The Vagina Dialogues takes three stories ; the story of two sisters, long drifted apart, the story of best friends facing a pregnancy scare and one of a comedic office woman that we all can relate to in many different ways. The stories and sliced and interlink within each other to create a suspense to the conclusions. It is interrupted by comical songs and an advert for finding the Female Orgasm, shown by (the attempt) to juggle balls and dropping them every time with their eyes closed…

Somehow all these pieces of theatre, these stories are so relatable, making us feel safe and somehow settling our minds that we are not the only ones. And therefore, that brings on the comedy. I have never laughed so much in my life and agreed so much with every point being made.

But it is not all about the comedy – there are heartfelt moments; moments of real pain, struggle and unease. And they are important parts of the story to tell. It is all well and good having a good old laugh, but with issues such as the Weinstein news and #MeToo trending on our social media, more than ever we need these stories told; of harassment, of mistreatment of women.

The Vagina Dialogues is a must see – any woman would come away with not only sides hurting from laughter but with a real sense of camaraderie with fellow woman kind and euphoria at the state gender politics are in.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review A Serious Play About World War II, Willis and Vere, Vaults Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

!THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

What do you evoke in your mind when you hear “a serious play about World War II?

1) Would it not be serious anyway?
2) This is going to be full of meaning, of tears, there will be horses… oh wait, that’s War Horse!
3) By no means will you create in you heads what actually happens.

The first 10 minutes is hammed up, not very PC and in this way shocking. We come in believing that we have come to see a War play and some how they are degrading the entirety of it but they are serious about what they are doing. A Jewish man is in the front row, obviously very upset – this is meant to be based on his story of the Holocaust and yet they are making a mockery of it.

And then this very awkward play becomes something different. It’s a play within a play. A farce. Our real play begins when everything goes wrong and the performers must find their way out of the mess they have made. There’s a low budget essence of Mischief Theatre with The Play that Goes Wrong and it’s later counterparts. And to be able to do ‘stunts’ without a large traditional theatre basis and all the theatrical tricks that come with that is brilliant.

It’s full of manic, frenzy and endless comedy. It is ridiculous yet brilliant and a real surprise to what we not only expected to see but also from what we began watching. Awkwardness becomes falling off your seat with laughter. The un PC moments become farcical events going wrong. And we finally breath a sigh of relief that it is not some racist, not very well thought out production but a very clever trick.

A Serious Play About World War II is full of hilarity, surprises and not for the weak stomach (just you wait and see why!).  And they are a pretty swell company to boot.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review Red Bastard : The Original Show by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

How lucky am I, that less than a week after seeing a theatrical hero for the first time, I was able to see the show that started it all – Red Bastard : The Original Show.

While Lie With Me focuses on love and how we all lie, the original show questions our dreams, our lack of or even fear of the truth and our lack of being interesting. What a perfect audience are the British to tackle these issues!

Red Bastard has a commanding power. Unlike other performances when audience members hesitate and struggle with being interacted with, you expect it with Red Bastard. But part of you wants to be commanded by him, you want him to interact and his clever approach to the performance is to feed off what we give. How amazing is this performer that he is unfazed by this and utalising it for his own theatrical creation.

He is mean. He is loving. He gives 0 sh**s and we love it. We are masochistic in a sense that we crave his abuse, his comedy and his surprises. Because BOY are there surprises. You can never tell when the next one will be.

It is admiring to watch his ability to push boundaries with a sense that the fundamentals are rehearsed but that Red Bastard is the master of improv.

If you ever do anything with your life – see Red Bastard. Join in. And come away with possibly one of the funniest, most enjoyably insulting performances that you will never want to end.

 

 

Review AI Love You, Heart To Heart Theatre, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

 

(4 / 5)

 

Sometimes interesting theatre is simple theatre.

Welcomed into a blank canvas of a room, there are only two performers on stools, and a mirror suspended behind.

With no prior knowledge (I personally avoid this before shows so that I am surprised and can deduce my own conclusions and interpretations) it is daunting to see such little to the room of a performance.

We are handed a blank piece of white paper and are smiled at one performer and almost frowned by the other.

As the title suggests , AI Love You features a) love and b) robotics. Now stay with me – this is no sci-fi, out of this world, incapable apocalyptic world where everything is alien and new. This is actually a heartfelt production, questioning morals and seeing the inside of a relationship.

April and Adam are a couple. A normal relationship, they are in love and… April is a robot. Created to be Adam’s ‘perfect woman’ , she has now reached a point where she is breaking, ‘malfunctioning’ and plans to end her life. But Adam is against it as he loves her. For all intense and purposes, they seem like a general couple with all the feelings and experiences any would, and if this was two human’s it would be a difficult decision, suicide, anyway but morals are questioned when you consider that April is an AI.

The great thing about this piece is the set up – we are fully included. Like a court room trial, we hear each side of their cases which is ordered by the facility that made her and are asked to vote who we agree with. And so we can only assume they have prepared alternative options dependent on the vote conclusions. This in itself is pretty impressive when you think that these performers have potentially learnt two different scripts.

April is at times cold and well… robotic, at times breaking into recognisable sensitivity and love but is still different to the obvious torment Adam is facing. And it works well, and gels in a way you would not think it would.

Adam is more comedic, almost dry in humour but little of this is given to April which I feel lacked with continuity – if there is an element of comedy then it needs to run through with both performers.

However, over all the concept and writing is brilliant. When reading the blurb after the show, they performers also change who is the robot and who is human, and this makes me wonder how changed is the performance and does it change what we think and how we would vote.

AI Love You is heartbreaking but also a very intelligent production – of something that with recent news… well who knows, could it become true?

 

 

Review Be Prepared, Ian Bonar, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

A room with only a table, bible and vase of flowers, Be Prepared certainly is not preparing us for what is ahead.

As the lights go down, some quirky music begins from the audience and out comes our performer, hidden within us.

Be Prepared takes a look at one man, his grief of losing his father, reminiscence of his childhood and life and his chance encounter with a stranger that brings his life and grief into perspective.

The majority of this production is a monologue; chopping and changing the story, we pick up bits and pieces of his narration and feel the tense and nervous mannerisms of the character. Ian Bonar is captivating in his production and this monologue is never boring and always engaging; taking the time to look directly at us as he talks, making us feel included and that this production is very personal.

This addictive speech is interrupted by physical breaks, highlighted by changes in light and sound. It shocks the system, shocks you out of rhythm and emanates the system interruption that grief must also give.

This combination of two theatrical forms is never boring and we sit wishing to hear more, to know the story and find out what happens. He is comical, earnest and friendly and all we want to do it sit and listen.

Ian Bonar has taken on a creative and unusual approach to story telling in theatre. Be Prepared is honest, warm and in a way relaxing to watch which is what captivating theatre should sometimes be.

 

 

Review The Poetry We Make, Flugelman Productions, Vaults Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

What is wonderful about the Vault Festival is the eclectic mix of theatre and performance on show.

Last week I faced the refugee crisis and misogyny and this week, a LGBTQ+ story of change and pain.

The Poetry We Make sees the story of a loved up couple, the decline of the relationship and the change when Robin begins to realise that they are the wrong gender. Elliot struggles to face this truth and we see the decline of not only their love but their friendship, along with the questions, curiosity and frustration behind such a huge life change. And then there’s Dolly Parton – you cannot go wrong!

We affiliate so much with the characters’ – the loved up couple, their painful break up and the coping afterwards. We recognise the ladies man best friend, void of feelings for women but a laugh all the same. And Dolly Parton is there, creating comedy and musical interludes.

The performer’s bring such a honest and heartfelt approach to the characters, letting us not only relate but also question ourselves in their situations. The story is tough and it is great to see it brought to the forefront through theatre.

My only issue with this is that it is written from the perspective of Elliot. We see her decline, her pain and frustration at knowing Robin is not the gender they once were and questioning their relationship and love. I see that perhaps this highlights the issues of loved ones and even outsiders when they feel personally victimised, threatened or even frightened by something that is not ‘the norm’ and the general approach LGBTQ+ persons sometimes come accross. But at the same time I would have liked to hear more from Robin and what they were going through and their feelings.

The stage is simple yet effective; easily changed to fit the scene and does not need any huge changes to do so. The acoustics of the tunnel of the Vaults only helps to add to this vibrating feeling of a sensitive, funny and honest piece.

The Poetry We Make is heartfelt, not afraid to tell the truth but also full of comedy. A culturally significant piece of theatre.

 

 

Review Evros : The Crossing River, Seemia Theatre, The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

Very regimental, emotionless and demanding, walking into Evros : The Crossing River, we are split into different seating through the tunnel in direct fashion. This production has many layers to it, with our entrance only being of one, highlighting the narrative.

Evros is a production that looks at and gets in depth with the Syrian refugee crisis. Taking several stories, we see the sheer terror, the difficulties and the tragedy that many families have and do endure, while contrasting this with normal events of happiness, family, and love. It is an emotional play, tugging at your emotions but also opening your eyes to the sheer truth.

The performers from Seemia Theatre have happily (and what a rarity) gone back to basics – we have character swapping with identity being confirmed by small changes of costuming, translating into their character development. The performers do well to change ages, relationships through physicalisation and change in voice.

Back to basics, they also use basic lighting, a simple wash with a spotlight change – nothing fancy and distracting, this production is purely about content and physicality. And there is no recorded music – the performers take it in turns and also join together with instruments and their voices which resounds across the tunnel creating the ultimate atmospheric feeling.

It’s also refreshing to see a narrative combined with physical theatre – encompassing the feeling of running, of loss, of exhaustion with repeated, almost light-motif’s of movement to enhance the deterioration of these lives.

The narrative itself is split; we see characters go from normal happy lives, to tragedy; creating the basics we need to affiliate with them as people living normal lives, to then question and try to understand how such awful events can change that simple dynamic quickly.

The performers are at all times in character – from the moment you walk in to when you leave. This becomes a safe space where we experience these stories but feel contained and in a way, involved.

Evros : The Crossing River is steeped in emotion, creating the most intense atmosphere and leaving you feeling a sense of sorrow unlike any other.

Hannah Goslin

 

 

Review Madonna or Whore? The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

Practically living at the Vault Festival, I decided last minute to book into another show – Madonna or Whore? With 4 and 5 star reviews, I was eager to see what looked like from the posters a different and comedic production.

Madonna or Whore takes a look at misogyny through time, highlighted by Freud’s ‘Madonna or Whore’ theory, and emphasised by  (very good) karaoke Madonna songs.

Now that all may sound like a random concoction but it isn’t. Holly Morgan and her fiancé Tom Moores bring together not only each of their own essence to the production, bouncing off one another as naturally as you can imagine they do in person . Whilst also looking at history, they bring in their personal experiences. With the current #MeToo movement, this production is relevant, shocking but also so true and close to our own lives and experiences.

Now, as really this is some deep stuff to be watching, Morgan and Moores turn it on its head; part stand up, part farce, part comedy duo, they are turned into comical overturns helped by home made props and audience participation.

It is for sure that a review cannot do it justice.

Madonna or Whore? is nothing short of brilliant – topical and very important, Morgan and Moores are just hilarious, clever and totally bonkers. This really is the type of work that should be seen by everyone not only for its importance but for its sheer hilarity and clever approach.

(5 / 5)

 

Review Red Bastard : Lie With Me, The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

Bouffon : A theatre concept that is unique, niche and rarely seen in contemporary theatre. Red Bastard could easily be said to be the father of this style.

As a student studying performing arts 5 years ago, I was introduced to Red Bastard and fell in love with not only him but Bouffon – a type of theatre where a character who is misshaped and says the things no one should ever say, it is shocking, hilarious and fantastic. Not for those who are too PC!

Lie With Me is Red Bastard’s second show. This time he takes on love, and asks the questions we are all scared to ask and think about – What counts as cheating? What even is love? And pointing out that we all LIE.

Red Bastard uses 3 alter egos – Red Bastard is the devlish and mysterious figure who gets off on our lies, our infidelities, our animal instinct. Eric is the performer – he almost does not agree, he is apologetic and horrified by Red Bastard. And finally a man with no name, who just wants love and to be loved – he’s respectful, giving and rounds up the show with a wonderful soulful ending.

Red Bastard moves across our stage, like a little round devil ; licking his fingers as he enjoys our lies like a delicious cake, miming making sandwich’s, cutting deserts, and filling his evil belly with it. You cannot help but laugh at this but admire his precision in his movements; his known movement of walking and rubbing his misshapen body as he speaks to us is almost like a star struck moment to us fans.

It is unclear how planned and how much improv he uses – he interacts with us but seems to be ahead of us all. This shows true skill as a performer that we know he cannot possibly predict all the infinite options that can come from the audience, but he is so precise and perfect that he takes it in his stride and reacts perfectly every time.

Red Bastard is a hero of mine and he did not disappoint. A well researched performance, he has no qualms, fears or want to not offend, to not tell us what we are thinking, and makes us come away contemplating what life really is, whilst our stomachs hurt from laughing so much.

Hannah Goslin

 

 

Review Becoming Shades, Chivaree Circus, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

In the deep dark underground of The Vaults in London, Vault Festival obtains every corner. Lightened by UV and Neon, packed full of people, in rooms that seemingly appear from nowhere – what  a perfect place to stage an apocalyptic underworld full of circus extraordinaire.

Becoming Shades is mostly entirely run by women – but these women are fierce. They occupy this expanse of an Underworld, making us stare and gasp in awe at their circus techniques – but not all is what it seems. This is dark, real dark – a feeling of two acrobatics with a grudge; a girl pulled into the chaos and forced to perform; three henchmen and their comical relationships; all run by our ‘ring leader’ – a gas masked mystery, moving almost like an old person but still curious and inhuman-like.

This promenade performance moves the audiences across the space – our henchmen guiding us with mime and fear – we’re never sure if they will hurt us or play with us. They move us with such ease – the lighting changing and acting as a beacon for where we must go.

The costumes and set are exactly what you would expect – reused material yet with a finesse of circus tradition; everything encompasses this watery, dark underground world.

There’s no ‘tud dah’ moments; no smiles; we know we cannot be hurt and we will leave eventually but there’s the 1% that makes you think you’ll be with this group of mischiefs forever.

The stunts are undeniably creative, surprising and inspiring; seeing each muscle in the performer’s bodies move in the light as their sheer strength and flexibility turns around a rope; silks; flaming hoops and so on. And then there are fire breathing, juggling, all to grab your attention and keep you guessing.

The cast themselves did a great job of constant character; the interval let us stay in the area and they loitered; looking sad and bewildered; listening to the live music which was very necessarily dark, indie and mood enhancing. Or they decided to play with us, invite us to be entertained instead of checking Twitter.

Beyond Shades evokes a little reminder of No Fit State Circus ; energetic, unusual but still with their own take and own identity. Just as No Fit, they are incredible and nothing short of sheer perfection, something like you have never seen before.

Hannah Goslin