Vault Festival, London – until 16 February 2020
Big, bold and colourful, yet Splintered never forgets to draw focus on the struggles that queer women from Trinidad and Tobago go through in coming out.
Stylised as a cabaret and carnival inspired show, Splintered arrives at the Vault Festival to offer plenty of personality, energy but equally importantly a chance to examine the troubles facing queer women in the Caribbean for being who they are.
What makes this show particularly clever is the way in which it wraps real life stories around a series of sketches or ‘acts’ – providing plenty of humour along the way, with a unique interpretation of ‘Cell Block Tango’ better known from the musical Chicago being a real highlight. Yet this is also a show that knows how to pack a punch emotionally when it really matters – particularly when it comes to examining just why so many people in the Caribbean struggle to come out.
Perhaps the interlinks between the different segments could have been better put together, but it can never be denied the sincerity of what writer and director Emily Aboud wants to achieve with Splintered. It highlights perfectly the pain and suffering as one character struggles to come out to her mum, while another struggles to contain her feelings for her straight best friend.
Meanwhile the sheer energy and passion from the cast is incredible from start to finish that it is hard not to engage with the stories that they are telling in this refreshingly unique style. Alice Vilanculo, Chante Faucher and Charlotte Dowding all have plenty of charisma, treating the stories being told and the characters with respect.
It is also clear that a lot of research has been undertaken in the creation of the show, which covers every possible aspect of the reality for women in the Caribbean. This is great but it can also make the show feel overpacked in the hour running time.
However, there is plenty of joy to be found in this honest, heartfelt and informative show that deserves further development in the future.
By Emma Clarendon
Splintered continues to play as part of the Vault Festival until the 16th February.