Review: Caceroleo, VAULT Festival

Both more polished and experimental than your regular VAULT Festival, Rhys Hastings’ Caceroleo makes for a bracing watch

“Is it a play? Is it a film?”

Right from the off, you can see that Caceroleo isn’t your average VAULT show. The quality of the multiple video screens and the content thereon (projection design by Al Orange) is a step up from what we’ve come to expect in these Waterloo tunnels. And as an extended video introduction of a rehearsal process broaching notions of safe spaces bleeds into a multi-layered monologue tackling domestic violence, that ambition is on full show. 

Writer/performer Rhys Hastings has a lot to say. He’s processing the trauma of growing up with a father abusive to both him and his mother, he’s offering up a rallying call to men to wrestle with the epidemic of male violence towards women, he’s probing into the responsibilities the arts have when simulating this, he’s also playing with how far he can push this theatrical experiment.

Director Nastazja Domaradzka is a well-matched partner in crime in this, very much interested in disrupting convention and presenting audiences with a puzzle-box of a production. Video sequences are spliced throughout, Jovana Backovic’s sound design intervenes with purpose, stories and structures are questioned, timelines rewind, spoken word takes over at some points with haunting impact.

The cumulative effect is one which is frequently exhilarating and sometimes verging on the exhausting – at 90 minutes, it is significantly longer than most VAULT shows. And a crucial moment of questioning the reliability of our narrator has something of a destablising effect on our engagement – does the message of the show change if it isn’t actually autobiographical? It’s something we’re left wrestling with, even as we’re agog at the audacity of Hastings’ work.

Running time: 90 minutes
Caceroleo is booking at VAULT Festival until 29th January

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