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Review of Conquest by Katie Caden at the Vault Festival

Conquest - Photo by Ali Wright.
Conquest – Photo by Ali Wright.

Conquest: “The act of conquering a country, area, or situation… someone you have had sex with but probably not a relationship. ” this is how the word conquest is defined in The Cambridge Dictionary.

The piece I’m writing about is Conquest: a statement piece penned by Katie Caden as an exploration of the multidimensional female voice. It’s the debut piece from Pearshaped Theatre and currently performing as part of London’s Vault Festival.

The press release I received has a strapline that reads “welcome to the world’s first revenge cupcake company” placed beside a picture of a decorated cupcake and a tampon! Yes, you read that right, a tampon. Conquest is a topical piece, highly relevant to society’s hashtag #Metoo, it is a piece of theatre that addresses the importance of consent. In fact, after each of their shows, there is a Consent Cafe Q&A session that is free to all audience members.

The piece started really well, it was pacey, humorous and their tone of voice was one I related too. I felt like I was in the theatre for about 20 minutes, not 60 minutes, the characterisation and performances by both Lucy Walker-Evans and Colette Eaton are brilliant. I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to fault them in any of their multiple roles. They are easy to watch, authentic and it is easy to buy into each of the characters.

The direct language used in the piece combined with direct audience addresses and self-referential stereotypes are spot on and I think to myself that this play would be great in schools as part of young adult’s personal social development. There are really only a few props on stage, 2 microphone stands (to break the natural narrative of the piece) a few chairs, so you can tell which character is talking at any given time and multiple batches of cupcakes

There are some fantastic scenes, including one where Al and Jo (purposefully gender fluid names!) are in “Dave’s” bathroom, the way Jo gets into the bathroom is comedy genius, and wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Only Fools and Horses; Collette Eaton’s building climb is superb!

This one scene gives the audience a snapshot of how things can easily escalate out of control. How revenge may seem like the answer but the reality may be very different. Towards the end of the play, this scene is amplified – Jo and Al have climbed onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament to protest about the lack of education surrounding sexual consent and have their own special way of protesting (no spoilers here!)

Both of these scenes show that taking revenge oneself, although it may feel great at the time, may not be the perfect solution – fundamentally we know that two wrongs don’t make a right, the play carefully positions this and leaves us to make our own minds up. It all comes back to consent and the understanding that No means No. Again, I leave feeling that consent is a human right and should be taught in schools to both men and women.

4 stars

Review by Faye Stockley

This is – Joanna – but she’d rather go by the gender-neutral name Jo. She is a radical feminist, she is a Feminazi – she uses the word patriarchy in everyday normal sentences. She is the reason your friends say: Well I really prefer to think of myself as a humanist.
A chance meeting in a pharmacy. Alice is looking for the morning after pill, instead, she meets Jo, and is drawn into a world of radical, female activism. Welcome to Conquest: the world’s first revenge cupcake company.

PEARSHAPED PRESENT THEIR DEBUT
CONQUEST
Written by Katie Caden
Directed by Jessica Daniels
Produced by Rachael Smith
Cast: Lucy Walker-Evans & Colette Eaton
21st of February – 25th of February
https://vaultfestival.com/

Author

  • Faye Stockley

    Faye read Theatre & Performance at The University of Warwick; she went on to work as a stage manager in London and Edinburgh. She had a year's stint on-board the MV Island Escape as a Social Host and Compere and now works full time as a Recruitment Manager for the broadcast, entertainment and media sectors.

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