One Minute at The Vaults
The Vaults is an ideal name for this thespian arts space nestled in the shadows of Waterloo’s black tunnels. Its darkened bar is an inviting entrance; the wine is plentiful and the prices reasonable. Illuminated by a gentle low light, a staircase leads to a baroque lounge with tall black tables and worn leather sofas. To the left sits an aged puppet on a chair, as if plucked from the scene of a horror movie. Inside the theatre, some 200 antiquated seats under the arch of a tunnel compliment the upcycle feel.
Simon Stephen’s One Minute is not an easy piece of work to produce. The lack of stage directions in the one-hour-and-45-minute script means the director is left to map out scenes, squeezing every inch of ingrained ingenuity.
Central to the story is a missing child, though the effect of that loss is never deeply explored nor the primary theme. Rather, it is the journeys of five people whose lives are affected by the passing that are the focus. Cait Davis’ heart-rending depiction of the missing child’s mother aches with sorrow and desperation. Jake Ferretti and Oliver Kadebhai are also impressive as two credible police officers assigned to the case: neither succumbs to the obvious or cliché.
The stage is simply set. Walls on either side are pasted with notices, pictures and photographs, most of which are not visible to the audience and so lose their significance. A cube-like structure frames the action, while a mirrored screen provides some stunning visual effects. However, Stephen’s story requires more than just ingenuity. It needs an awareness of the pathos and tension that surround the theme and, by the same token, an understanding of unfinished sentences and the unspoken word in producing silences rich with meaning.
Predominantly a movement theatre company, Delerium does well to stretch from its comfort zone. The sound of rain on damp pavements and a film of pouring ribbons of rain are visually and audibly stunning. Other scenes rely heavily on movement at the expense of stillness, some more successfully than others. What Delerium does is good but applying it to Stephen’s play is like putting Marmite and horseradish in the same sandwich. Whether it tastes good is up to the individual.
One Minute is on at The Vaults from 10th September until 3rd October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.