Review: Wood, VAULT Festival

A post-modern take on porn and patriarchy, I can’t help but want to be finished off better by Wood at the VAULT Festival

The hour long timeslots of the VAULT Festival mean that although there’s a lot of great theatre on offer, there isn’t always the greatest adventurousness with form. Which is only fair, if you’ve got to be in and out in 50-odd minutes and keep your audience with you, there’s precious little time to get tricksy.

Which makes Adam Foster’s Wood all the more impressive for its formal daring in its metatheatrical layers. And speaking of going in and out, it’s a play about porn and the patriarchy. It’s also about power dynamics and the past and whether we’ve really made any progress in the face of the straight, white, male hegemony.

As layer after layer peels back, a particularly postmodern kind of confusion sets in as roles are played and then replayed by different people, blurring gender and colour lines. And as impressively ambitious as Grace Duggan’s direction is, there’s a sense that perhaps Foster has bitten off more than he can chew in 50 minutes.

The abruptness of the ending feels somewhat unsatisfactory and whilst you could argue ‘leave them wanting more’, you also don’t want people to leave going ‘you’re stopping there, huh?!’. That said, the company of Claire Cartwright, George Fletcher, Philippa Hogg, and Nneka Okoye are all great fun as they flip from role to role. 

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Wood is booking at the VAULT Festival until 3rd March

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