Review: Villain, Interrupted, VAULT Festival

Dolls in Amber’s Villain, Interrupted at VAULT Festival plays well on the fact that the best character in any superhero is usually the baddie

“I should probably tell this story in order”

Gina is a therapist with big, superhero-sized dreams. The prison where she works is full of supervillains and armed with her own normal person-sized everyday powers, she’s determined to make a hero out of each and every one. But where she believes that prison is a place for rehabilitation, society’s insistence on incarceration means she has a real fight on her hands.

KT Roberts’ Villain, Interrupted might sound a little weighty in that opening paragraph but in reality, it is a hugely enjoyable romp of a show that revels in its inventiveness. Marrying “comic-book energy, theatre and shadow puppets” with a multi-roling ensemble results in a madcap vibe that thoroughly engages (no mean feat considering I’m no real fan of the superhero genre – hell, I enjoyed The Eternals…)

Emma Richardson’s Gina is an adorkable treat at the heart of the story, relaying her travails at the Powered Offenders Institute via flashbacks to a reporter. And Micha Mirto’s production does wonders on the barest of budgets in order to full flesh out this ZAP! BANG! POW! world around her – a hugely resourceful approach to staging often bringing a smile to the lips and stars in the eyes.

Robbie Bellekom, Francesca Forristal and Sofia Engstrand work wonders in embodying the likes of King Cobra, Ink Lord and Lady Injustice (two people in one body, no less) and more besides. And even as we giggle and shudder at supervillainous supervillainry, Roberts’ musings on who gets labelled villains (minorities, natch) and what society ever hopes to do with them give the show a dramatic underpinning that makes it really resonate.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Villain, Interrupted is booking at VAULT Festival until 19th March

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