Vikki Stone at London WondergroundCultureTheatre
Instrumental is Vikki Stone’s new show, playing for the first time in London before it heads up to Edinburgh. At first sight it lives up to its name: the stage is stuffed with instruments from the recognisable – piano, trumpet, clarinet, cello – to the less familiar – electric ukulele, keytar, egg shaker, even a vibraslap.
Stone launches straight into a blend of anecdote, autobiography, song and rap, all accompanied by an instrumental backing track that she performs and then layers with a temperamental loop pedal. Her narrative is a constant stream of stories about her life and particularly a bittersweet series of reminiscences about her dad. It’s frantic and relentless, Stone delivers the monologue breathlessly as she runs and runs from one side of the stage to the other, grabbing instruments, setting loops, playing with props. Sometimes she performs rhythmically in a quasi-rap, spoken-word style and occasionally she breaks into song.
The story she tells is very personal, with occasional observational moments (“I love organised fun, it always teeters on the edge of joylessness”). Puncturing the stories are big participatory set pieces, turning the audience into a huge impromptu choir and even encouraging members of the audience to come up on-stage and play an instrument of their choice.
The purpose of Edinburgh previews is to iron out any kinks before a full run, and the ambition of the show – 20 instruments mic’d up, loop pedals programmed and put in the right place – means that there are a lot of kinks. The persistent technical meltdowns seem to be the fault of the tech team rather than Stone, and when they are sorted it will be a brilliant show. Stone has found a fantastically endearing brand of musical autobiography whose technical ambition risks overshadowing her musical and comic talent. But the talent is there and her charm, her energy, her smile and her wit make her a joy to watch.
Vikki Stone: Instrumental is touring until 20th July 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch Vikki perform One Woman Les Miserables here: