Home » London Theatre Reviews » Something Awful by Tatty Hennessy at the VAULT Festival | Review

Something Awful by Tatty Hennessy at the VAULT Festival | Review

Something AwfulJel (Monica Anne), Soph (Natalya Martin) and Ellie (Melissa Parker) are all intelligent and inquisitive schoolgirls, with perhaps only their tender years stopping them from having the kind of worldview that those of us who have been around a little longer have acquired one way or another.

Something Awful has its title derived from a website of the same name – much of its content is fairly tame, at least to me. One article is called ‘What is the best way to make coffee?’ and another seems fairly obvious, discussing ‘Why Having an Alligator for a Pet is Dangerous’. Here, though, the website that Soph looks at is, apparently, something on the ‘dark web’ (a term easily searched for online for those unfamiliar with the term).

Two long tables are shuffled around between scenes, which proved particularly handy in a sleepover scene, thanks to – wait for it – a wet performance space (I’ve no idea why this wasn’t mopped up beforehand), but it also meant, more pertinently, that practically everybody could see what was going on without having to crane their necks. The production largely does well to ensure that as much of the audience as feasible, sat longitudinally on three sides of a rectangular room, could see proceedings unfold.

That said, the script is heavy on exposition in any event – and may even work just as well as a radio play. It’s not afraid, so to speak, of stereotypes in creating an atmosphere of trepidation, not so much in its characters but in its use of lighting and sound effects. The show’s ending, meanwhile, makes little sense to me, not because of what happened or how, but why – and what purpose was to be achieved by it. It also seemed to happen very quickly, as if the story had to wrap up somehow within sixty minutes, and so the last scene is swift, decisive and conclusive.

It’s difficult to say definitively what the ‘critical incident’ is in the show – the pivotal moment that changes the characters significantly and irreversibly. Perhaps it is because the characters are thirteen years of age and thus changing anyway. Perhaps there simply isn’t one – what goes on must be taken as a series of events through which the story unfolds. It could be that modern audiences are more exposed to video projections in live theatre performances these days, but it was slightly disappointing that the audience wasn’t able to see what the characters were showing one another on their smartphones or laptops, and it would have enhanced the experience if we knew what precisely it was they were reacting to.

There are some amusing moments in the show, and experiences that the girls encounter that are relatable to many in the audience – after all, we were all teenagers once. At one level this is a simple tale about how naivety can be exploited – on another, it is a multi-layered plot with much to say about modern living. But for whatever reason, it didn’t quite hold my attention throughout, and while the show has a strong and capable cast, the script could do with a little tightening.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Soph and her best friend Jel love scary stories. They hunt for the best ones on creepypasta sites, hunting the darkest online corners. But then strange and beautiful new girl Ellie turns up at school with a horror story of her own; a mysterious figure in the woods, the shadow of an axe. And when a girl in a nearby town goes missing, it seems their online monster’s come to life.

Something Awful is a new play from Vault Award-winning and Off West End Award-nominated team Tatty Hennessy and Lucy Jane Atkinson, inspired by the real true crime story of the Slenderman. It’s a play about what we should be scared of, and where the real monsters live.

Production Credits:
Written by Tatty Hennessy
Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson
Produced by Flux Theatre
Sound by Sam Glossop
Lighting by Holly Ellis
CAST: Monica Anne (JEL), Natalya Martin (SOPH), Melissa Parker (ELLIE).

Title Something Awful
Performances 28th January – 2 February 2019, 19:50 (Sunday matinee 16:50)
Running Time 60 minutes
Venue Vault Festival – Cavern, Leake St, London, SE1 7NN
Notes Suitable for 14+


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