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Home at the Vault Festival | Review

A child plays with an orange, and the old man works himself into the ground. Playful, rough, intimate and touchingly funny, Home is a piece that will hang around in your mind, a story of both conflict and affection, loss and life.

Home at the Vault Festival.
Home at the Vault Festival.

The piece kicks off with a puppet sequence showing a man leaving a doll’s house, rustling an orange out of a tree and driving to work, and then the same in reverse. The puppetry, under the direction of Santi Guillamon, is deliberately unpolished, and in that roughness, there is a wonderfully simple playfulness. The lights are turned off in the shoddily put-together house and a child crashes onto the stage, they are an astronaut. The child is wondrous, a vivid imagination launches us far from the monotonous existence of the Earth.

The style is simple, very little happens, there is a lot of playing with an orange, and a snake-like character made of a hoover tube pops up a lot. But in essence, it is a series of interesting scenes, loosely strung together with questions of relationships, age and imagination.

The early act of the piece examines imagination, and the worlds we choose to live in. The imagination of the company is beautiful, taking your hand and leading you into a space of disponsibility and lucidity. Whole sequences take place in imagined stories, which when considered are no less real than the framing stories. In these imagined sequences themes shift, discovering life, death and the relationships we have with other people. And yet something troubling lurks beneath the piece. The figure of the old man, possibly a father, troubles the stories told by the child; friction exists between the stories of the old man and the child, they interrupt each other and break the rhythm of their storytellers.

The performers are colourful and playful and have a captivating hold on the audience. They are excellently attuned to each other. Guillamon invites us to look beyond the puppets to the puppeteers with moments of conflict between performers. Assuming this is deliberate (it is), it luxuriously slides another layer of the story into the questions of stories, who is telling them and how they are received.

If you were to criticize this piece, it is just how loose it is. The piece gives us almost nothing in terms of parameters as to metaphors for what is happening, no comprehensible word is said on stage, characters mumble, scream and babble as a representation of dialogue. For me, this is wonderful, it allows me to read it, however, I want to, enjoy it on a surface level for the deliciously playful comedy, and let the more subtle themes seep in slowly. Its resonance is fascinatingly hard to pin down, for me shows that rattle around in the back of my mind for long after are the most interesting. It could give us more pointers, a few clues here and there that lead us through the piece, but the wide spans of ambiguity far from ruined the experience for me.

4 stars

Review by Tom Carter

Gaia should be sleeping, it is past their bedtime. Instead, they wander through their home at night. It is in the dark when their imagination is most alive.

Reeling through images and memories; muddling present, past and future; human and non-human; real and imagined, HOME, is a journey through a sleepless night. A messy, musical, wordless meditation on the fragility of that which we call “home”.

HOME combines mime, puppetry and elements of clown. It takes inspiration from a range of sources including Kafka and German expressionism, magic realism and Mediterranean folklore. In its creation, it makes use of found objects and recycled materials to create theatre that is highly visual, playful, peculiar and rough around the edges.

This is the debut of azza-har theatre, a visual theatre company formed by international artists based in the UK.

Co-produced by azza-har theatre and Fourth Monkey.

Azza-har theatre is an emerging visual theatre company formed by international artists based in the uk. Led by co-artistic directors Melina Koutsofta (Cyprus) and Santi Guillamon (Spain).

Cast & Creative Team
Performers/devisers (in alphabetical order):
Fraser Kelsey; Melina Koutsofta; Santi Guillamon; Sophie Stockwell
Director: Santi Guillamon
Music composition: Manos Stratis
Dramaturgy + Design Consoltant: Nefeli Kentoni
5th & 12th of February, The Studio @ The Vault Festival.

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