VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Angels ★★
The Cavern, Vault Festival
Wednesday 19th - Sunday 23rd February 2020
The magic of theatre is held together when you can walk into the auditorium and completely immerse yourself into a different world; Moulin Rogue on Broadway is the perfect example with a Parisian decor, or the Immersive Great Gatsby in London which had transformed a warehouse into a 1920s vibe. After reading the description of Angels, the excitement of walking into a loud and crowded room full of poles and dancing to depict a strip club were quickly dampened, as instead we entered to hardly any music and frozen stances on stage; already the production wasn't giving us this freedom from an outside world, and it wasn't about to get any better.
As the performance begins, we are introduced to Coco (Producer and Performer Valerie Isaiah Sadoh), who is fundamentally the main character of this story. Trying to make enough money in London whilst working as an actor on the side, Sadoh is strong and confident as Coco, and is by far the most professional and skilled performer on stage. Against the rest of the company, she has a way of commanding the stage and bringing layers to her persona which allows her to change from the caring sort to snap straight into a woman demanding money of men for wasting her time. One of these men is performer Martin Sweeney (credited as ensemble) who multiroles as several punters who enter the club; from a Liverpudlian to Business man, Sweeney delivers a decent performance that certainly is rough around the edges but does the role justice.
Alongside Sadoh and Sweeney in the cast are Julia Edgley (Gloria), Laura Morris (Nicole), and Frank Williams (Ensemble). Whilst we do get to delve on the surface of Gloria and Nicole's background, it's very much lightly touched on with no real character development; a fight about one man, played by Sweeney, fails to reach a heightened state due to the scripts failure in having empathy for the two ladies, whilst William's ensemble credit is barely used and does not add anything to an already slow paced production with little emotion and set design from Katherine Davies Herbst, though the hand-drawn animation projected onto the brick backdrop is a nice touch, if not a little repetitive when played on a loop hundreds of times.
Overall, whilst Angels does have some potential in the script, this outing at The Vault Festival fails to deliver on atmosphere, being situated in a cold and damp tunnel, whilst also being numb on character development from director Beverly Andrews, though Valerie Isaiah Sadoh does give an engaging performance that keeps you in your seat inside of walking towards the exit.