Vault Festival 2018: Wind Bit Bitter, Bit Bit Bit Her
The sixth edition of the Vault Festival has officially kicked off, and it once again offers plenty of opportunities to explore new writing and discover fresh talent. More than 300 theatre, comedy and dance shows will be performed over the next two months in and around the unique underground venue where the atmospheric caves add a special charm to the experience.
One title likely to catch people’s attention in this year’s programme is Sami Ibrahim’s Wind Bit Bitter, Bit Bit Bit Her, a story of loss that transforms into a complex journey into the psyche. The damp cavern that hosts the play is empty bar a fridge and a stool. The audience sit on either side of the tunnel-like space. Pacing up and down the middle is protagonist Mary (Phoebe Vigor), who is experiencing problems with her wife following the loss of their baby.
Mary talks the audience through the traumatic event and the painful aftermath where silences and outbursts of anger alternate. In the midst of this time of grief, Mary goes for a walk and finds the limbs of a child washed up on the beach. She begins to fear that a big-scale scientific conspiracy is being carried out.
The shift from relationship drama to dystopian sci-fi is a little abrupt. Even if seen as a projection of the protagonist’s mental state, the abstract developments somewhat break the flow. While the emotional build-up does continue to progress steadily, the thematic change of direction weakens the plot, which becomes more dispersive as the focus blurs.
Mary is the solid thread that holds the piece together. Vigor has a strong presence, and she intertwines monologues, dialogues and descriptive passages with confidence and clarity, and the intensity of her performance keeps the audience’s attention when the momentum slackens. Unfortunately, the raw elements of the story are not always in focus, and it all becomes a little too alien to have the visceral effect it was intended to provoke.
Valuable in that it examines the uncertain line between conspiracy and paranoia, Wind Bit Bitter, Bit Bit Bit Her does handle hot topics and it does hold potential for intrigue, even though it ultimately seems to skim the surface in this respect. Likely to draw interest for its original plot, Ibrahim’s play is solid enough to engage for 90 minutes, even if it does not communicate anything extraordinary.
Photo: Cough//Drop Theatre
Wind Bit Bitter, Bit Bit Bit Her is at the Vaults Festival from 24th until 28th January 2018. For further information or to book visit the festival website here.