The challenge faced by many artists participating at the Vault Festival is that of creating an atmosphere, telling a valuable story and making an impact within the restricted timeframe of around 60 minutes. The Apologists is a reflection on what it means to say sorry, and it uses the limited performance time effectively to explore this theme. Three monologues by three different writers, all interpreted by Gabrielle Scawthorn, deal with sticky situations faced by three women in the public eye.
In the first segment, Excuses, a Secretary of State for Health and Social Care makes a racial blunder when addressing a doctor as she rushes into a hospital with her injured child. She goes on to make a formal public apology, but her feelings are at variance with her words, and she cannot contain her frustration at being admonished, finding the criticism excessive and unfair. The second story is called Seven, The Sweetest Hour, and it sees a popular journalist feeling exhausted by the superficiality surrounding her field of work. She is asked to review a B&B and, finding it tacky, expresses her dislike without holding back. The scathing review triggers tragedy, and the protagonist is attacked from all sides and pressured into culpability. The final act is New Universe and it deals with a scandal involving a charity. The apology of its CEO fails to restore justice towards one of the employees who has suffered first-hand at the negligent approach of the company.
In all three instances, the public and personal identities of the protagonists are intrinsically tied. When one falls apart, the other inevitably follows in a downward spiral. Resilience and vulnerability alternate, causing confusion, havoc and a blurred sense of self.
In spite of the fact that the three voices come from different authors, the stories adhere to the same mood and form a solid whole. This is also thanks to a brilliant interpretation by Scawthorn, who creates a connecting thread in the form of an underlying fear that all three women feel.
A chair on one side and a reading stand on the other immediately give the idea of the split between public expression and private reflection. The other significant visual clue is the changing shoes: a different pair for each story, which acts as a subtle invitation to enter the character’s perspective.
A vivid portrayal of emotional struggle in the face of public shame, The Apologists is painted in realistic strokes that help the audience suspend disbelief and truly engage with the issues raised.
Photo: Steve Gregson
The Apologists is at the Cage from 20th until 24th February 2019. For further information or to book visit the show’s festival page here.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.