Andrea keeps getting asked if she’s ashamed.
Ashamed of what she did to the soldier.
Of what she did to the baby.
But Andrea’s not ashamed at all.
And she wants to tell you why…
A beautiful, breathtaking drama about a young girl’s quest for the perfect family & home revealing a biting commentary on abuses of power in a patriarchal society.
Dark Vanilla Jungle is a magnificent work by Time Out, Evening Standard and Critics Circle Award-winner Philip Ridley. Produced by Brighton Fringe Award nominated Second Sons.
Producer Jamie Rowlands answered a few questions about Dark Vanilla Jungle.
Q: What can you tell us about the production?
Jamie: Our whole ethos is to create theatre for people who don’t like theatre. We want to engage new audiences and tell stories in ways they haven’t seen before. It’s going to be quite a stripped back production – minimal set, only a few props on the stage, just the character (Andrea) and her story. We’re having it on a thrust so the audience will be completely involved in by the action. We’ve got a brilliant actress, Emily Thornton, playing the part and a really interesting director in Samson Hawkins – they’re a pretty formidable team and I know they’ll create something special. It’s also quite different to anything we’ve done before. We’ve mainly produced comedies since we started the company and this is our first foray into drama, so we’re really excited for it.
We’re also delighted to be returning to Theatre N16, a great intimate space above the Bedford pub in Balham. They’ve got a really supportive and encouraging team there, and we knew we wanted to work with them on this.
Q: What is at the heart of the story?
Jamie: It’s not one particular issue or emotion, it’s the character. That’s why Dark Vanilla Jungle is so special because it’s essentially just a young girl telling her story. No elaborate plot, no frills, just someone bearing their soul for eighty minutes. I know Samson said recently it was important to keep everything personal to Andrea, as opposed to making a generalized statement on, for example, the patriarchal society she lives in. The play does tackle some important, very current issues and although we don’t intend to shy away from exploring those, it’s first and foremost about Andrea and what’s brought her to this point in her life. She sees the world in a really unique way. It’s pretty harrowing stuff.
Q: What can you tell us about Andrea?
Jamie: Andrea’s 15-years-old and she’s never been told she’s beautiful or even being shown any love. She ends up being persuaded into a very murky world and ends up having several horrific experiences. Essentially, she’s destroyed by other’s people’s lies and violence. She also comes from an unstable home. It’s hard to say any more without giving it all away, but she’s a fascinating character. Emily’s got a real capacity for finding that emotional depth, and I know she’s working hard to do all the research she needs to do for it. It’s very much the story of a child losing her innocence, moving into adulthood feeling things, and having experienced things, that no child should.
Q: What thought and emotions do you hope the audience will take away with them?
Jamie: It’s difficult to predict how audiences will react to it. I know when I read it for the first time, certain things really made me laugh because, even though it’s pretty dark stuff, there’s definitely some light relief. Then a few pages later I found myself with a lump in my throat. Then something made me angry, and then I felt sorry for her and then I didn’t, and then I did again. But then that’s the beauty of Philip Ridley’s dialogue – it grips you and it takes you on a journey. No one captures pain and violence quite like him. So we’re hoping for a whole gamut of reactions from the audience. We hope they’ll stick around and tell us what they thought after the show.
Q: Why should everyone spend their hard earned money on watching Dark Vanilla Jungle?
Jamie: It’s unlike any other piece of theatre you’ll see. It’s a brutal, stomach-churning monologue that really gets into the heart and soul of the character. The script is like poetry – it rumbles along to this uncompromising conclusion. Philip Ridley’s a master of macabre theatre and Dark Vanilla Jungle is no exception, so grab yourself a ticket, pop into the bar before and make your way upstairs for a real theatrical treat. You won’t be disappointed.
Written by Philip Ridley
Directed by Samson Hawkins
Produced by Jamie Rowlands
Dark Vanilla Jungle
21st to 31st March 2017