If a show doesn’t start with pillows and end with tequila shots from now on I’ll be very upset.
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to my first press night at the Vaults Festival in London for a show called Hip. Created, performed and researched by Jolie Booth, Hip places the audience in a squatter’s flat in Brighton, seemingly encased in history – specifically the history of Ann Clark, a vibrant mother and hedonist who lived and died there. The Vaults seemed to be the perfect place for Booth’s show to take place. Situated underneath Waterloo station we walked through a dark tunnel to get to the theatre, through a mixture of graffitied walls, damp pavements, and the distinct smell of wet paint. It looked like it could be a club or the venue for an underground art scene party. Basically – I felt really cool being there.
Booth begins the show outside – we are shown her Brighton in this dingy tunnel. She points out the sea, the seagulls, the shops, the windows and the people in them. We are given a momentary glimpse into her world. We are told we are being led down the back alley of a pub and ironically the small corridor we are actually led down also has that distinct smell of beer and sewage – it is underneath a train station – but still it felt oddly coincidental. Booth and Clark’s lives were similarly coincidental, colliding in random and meaningful ways. The performance was ‘extra-live’ so essentially it wasn’t really a show, as such, and more of a chat, a sharing of experience and a sharing of two lives. We sat on cushions and familiar songs played on a distant speaker. Booth guides us in bringing Ann into the room, asking us to hold hands and close our eyes. As we do this, and Booth talks to Ann, a train rattles above us and the whole room vibrates. Another coincidence that seems random and yet right.
The show didn’t really feel like a proper production but it was in a good way, I felt comfortable and at home. It was a story and a coincidence. Theatre intertwining with life intertwining with biography intertwining with hip bones.
Would really recommend seeing the show. Even if you don’t like theatre, or maybe especially if you don’t like theatre. And also because you get tequila shots at the end.