Bin Juice at the Vaults
“I applied for this job because I know what it feels like to be surrounded by rubbish,” Belinda (Helena Antoniou) announces. This is how Bin Juice begins; Belinda pleading her interviewers for employment, for the less-than-desirable role of a bin woman.
Stationed diagonally opposite her are two women at the helm of their private waste removal company, Marla (Madison Clare) and assertive boss Francine (Adeline Waby). The duo’s bantering relationship is the star of the show and quickly becomes apparent in the opening scene’s witty exchange alternate between intimidating interrogation of the hopeful candidate and absurd jokes surrounding the wateriness of pineapples, (“don’t even get me started on watermelons.”) An unnamed phone-caller finalises Belinda’s fate; she’s got the job. Francine then informs her that this is not your average bin removal service. They dispose of rubbish bags, but these bags exclusively contain bodies, which can sometimes still be alive.
Seeing an all-female cast dressed in baggy dungarees, hauling heavy bodies and revelling in their dank office gives a fresh and much-needed representation of women on stage; women, like men, can be dirty too, and powerful. The play is staged under Waterloo station at the Vaults, where intermittent trains rumble threateningly overhead. The dark, damp set amplifies the grotesque side of the characters and the Breaking Bad-like plot even further. The audience is split down the middle so that one side faces the other, with the stage in the middle. Both halves see the others’ reactions to every morbid reference, compounding the ominousness of the many dramatic moments.
The darker, more tense parts of the narrative are interjected with comic relief. While some of the script’s quips struggle to hit home, Marla and Francine’s interactions are consistently hilarious. Clare plays Marla with finesse. She’s an extremely likeable character who seems dim-witted on the surface but is far more complex underneath. This becomes particularly apparent when she retells her mother’s death to Belinda. Staring vacantly into the distance she remembers how her mother was “eaten by a cloud of flies”, after suffering from a heart attack. The audience incredulously ponders how Marla can stand working in a job surrounded by death and flies. She confesses that she’s terrified of ending up in the bin like her mum.
The ending of Bin Juice is more morbid and sudden than anyone in the audience is expecting. In a twisted turn of events, Belinda orchestrates their bin disposal task so that Marla is somehow inside the bag, unbeknownst to the audience and Francine. With the body inside still moving, Francine picks up a brick and bashes the bag repeatedly until it ceases to wriggle. To her horror, the play instantly ends on her realisation that she has killed her co-worker.
Bin Juice is an original story, one that is seriously funny and makes great use of its unique stage. If Francine’s character were further developed and her malicious motivations made clearer, it would be an outstanding addition to the Vault Festival.
Photo: Lidia Crisfulli
Bin Juice is at the Vaults from 10th March until 15th March 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.