Review: Tacenda, VAULT Festival

RedBellyBlack’s Tacenda at the VAULT Festival comes off as a Groundhog Day for millennials, though it could afford to be messier in its dénouement 

“I feel like I’m missing something important”

With my Susie Dent hat on, “tacenda is an archaic term referring to things better left unsaid; the opposite of ‘agenda'”. With the hat off, Tacenda is also the name of RedBellyBlack’s new show devised deviously for the VAULT Festival in their inimitable mix of physical theatre, storytelling and sequins and gold lamé jackets.

Elizabeth and Joy have been friends for a long time but things are becoming highly strained as Joy has moved in while looking for a new place to live and Elizabeth is newly single and both are having problems at work. On the day of their best friend Joel’s 30th birthday party, communication becomes so bad that the universe makes them do over the day until they finally start being honest with each other, and with themselves.

So far so Groundhog Day but there’s something more here too, something that speaks to the grinding treadmill that city life can be in its endless fruitless freelance pitches, the soul-crushing pain of flat hunting, cab drivers that won’t shut up, there not being enough hot water in the morning… These two women may be living the same day over and over but it is one that it is innately recognisable and forces us to look at what this does to the way we are.

For me, I’m not sure the movement sequences really added that much to the overall show, I wanted more of the deliciously dark brand of humour that flows each time we get to the party. Joel Gatehouse’s birthday boy is hilarious in each incarnation and I loved how far Louise Hoare and Kate Goodfellow were willing to go to cap off their monumentally bad day(s) (and I was quite glad not to be on the front row for once!).

Narrative strictures (and the need to bring the looping to an end) means that Tacenda does tend towards the conventionally neat in its ending (apart from poor Joel) as it all wraps up in a rather sweet way. I couldn’t help but feel there was something truer in the messiness that came before – who needs honesty when there’s passive-aggressive silence to be had (and you know I’m talking about you – yes, you).

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Tacenda is booking at the VAULT Festival until 24th February

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