Review: Don’t Talk To Strangers, VAULT Festival

Hot Cousin’s experimental and exhilarating Don’t Talk To Strangers is one of the more fascinating shows at the VAULT Festival

“In many ways, our proudest moment hasn’t happened yet”

What record would you have fired into space as a perpetual record of life on Earth for any passing extraterrestrials to find? The Queen of the Night (Mozart or Whitney, take your pick)? Pachelbel’s Canon in D? The Macarena?

The programme notes for Hot Cousin’s show Don’t Talk To Strangers (ooh, maybe some Chaka Khan, or Prince too…) inform you that they don’t want to tell you anything about the show before it starts and of course, they kinda know what they’re talking about. So if you’re feeling bold, I’d say take a chance, stop reading now and book a ticket to see what they can do with a glitter ball, a loop pedal, a shiny pink cloak and infinite modes of communication.

For those who are persevering, the thrust of this formally inventive and philosophically probing show offers up one of the more fascinating hours I’ve spent at this year’s VAULT Festival. Taking Carl Sagan’s Golden Record – ostensibly a record of all humanity – as its starting point, it asks the question whether such an enterprise could ever work, and whether such a message could ever hope to encapsulate any amount of the diversity of humankind.

This it interrogates in a most ingenious way, which I’m still loathe to reveal too much of here. I’ve seen it described as a mixtape or a series of vignettes: most crucially though, it thoroughly investigates the very notion of communication and the multiplicities of its potential interpretations with a thrilling blend of comedy and curiosity. Over and over, they explore the different ways the same message can be delivered whilst never forgetting the futility of trying to control how it is received. And the beauty is, you could (and most likely will) interpret it in a completely different way.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Hugo Bainbridge

Don’t Talk To Strangers is booking at the VAULT Festival until 1st March

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