Without That Certain Thing
Writer Rory Platt’s production is a finely crafted piece reflecting noir films of the 1940s and 50s, and American literary crime fiction.
Two large shelves stand centre stage, above which hangs a shaded light bulb, similar to what we’d find in a detective’s office. Sullivan (Phoebe Naughton) and Madeleine (Caitlin McEwan) meet at an LGBT speed dating night, though it transpires Madeleine is not actually gay, instead she is using the event as a ploy to discourage the man who has been stalking her. Sullivan takes this opportunity to reveal her past occupation as a Private Investigator, and offers to take on the case. Sullivan’s affected Received Pronunciation of a bygone era mirrors films such as 1944’s Laura and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), while McEwan’s Madeleine is nervous and overly chatty, providing humour through her awkwardness, alongside Sullivan’s witty asides, breaking the fourth wall. Detailed body movements like the lilt of feet portraying train journeys add to the authenticity of the production.
While the two characters bond, Swann (Tom Macqueen) slinks between shadows and shelves – initially only visible to the audience – but always in Madeline’s peripheral vision; director Chloe Christian’s use of space is sophisticated. What follows is a quirky turn down the rabbit hole, in which both Swann and Sullivan are beguiled by the alluring ordinariness of Madeleine. The detective dons a fedora and Macintosh – the classic detective guise – while Macqueen’s Swann presents a shy but feverish pursuer, forever on the heels of Madeline, quoting poets Sappho and Dante. Describing his feelings toward the Scotswoman, he comments, “The moment you think you have her. Poof!”, which encapsulates this production; just when we believe we have arrived at the conclusion, the plot thickens.
Platt’s razor sharp and witty script is a welcome highlight, along with all round fantastic performances from the cast, making Without That Certain Thing one of the most original and entertaining shows at Vault Festival.
Without That Certain Thing is at Network Theatre from 27th February until 3rd March 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.