Review: Ripe Tomato, after Peribañez, VAULT Festival

A vibrant, queered-up adaptation of a Lope de Vega play, Ripe Tomato, after Peribañez is worth checking out at VAULT Festival

“All landlords aren’t particularly evil…”

Written by Siofra Dromgoole and Gráinne Dromgoole, Ripe Tomato, after Peribañez is a contemporary adaptation of an early-seventeeth-century play by Lope de Vega. It’s a bold choice for young company Three Sisters Productions to bring to the VAULT Festival but in Avigail Tlalim’s production here, it turns out a reinvigorated bit of classic Spanish tragedy is just what a cold January night needs.

The play has been relocated into a South London squat and significantly queered up. New wives Cass and Peri are living their best Pride-party-drug-taking-responsibility-free lives with their pals but when the owner of the place they’re currently crashing at does his own crashing into their world, his instant attraction to Cass sets in motion a torrid and tragic turn of events.

Gráinne Dromgoole and Yohanna Ephrem are excellent as Cass and Peri, their chemistry palpable in their electric early scenes and plausibly challenged by the manipulations of Os Leanse’s Jeremy. The power he wields, and his abuse thereof, is intelligently explored, complexities of its own further added into the mix. There’s strong support from Olivia Mills’ Lujana, his assistant, who finds her own connection with Cass and Peri’s friend Ines, an excellent Camila Segal.

The only slight mis-step with the show comes in the way it uses sound. Music by PLUMM is created live, loops used particularly creatively but in the already challenging acoustics of the Cavern, it too often causes audibility problems. The atmosphere it creates well suits the reimagined world of this play but its script does suffer for it. A bit of tinkering there and this tomato will be truly ripe for the picking.

Running time: 90 minutes
Ripe Tomato, after Peribañez is booking at VAULT Festival until 19th February

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