Vault Festival, London – until 2 February 2020
Guest reviewer: Isabel Becker
Slick, smart and penetrating: Sophia Capasso’s play provides an incredibly strong performance of psychological terror that leaves hearts racing to the rhythm of her words. The story of young Ali’s cyclical descent into trauma – with the end of the play neatly bringing us back to its opening sequence – is told with not just fervent passion, but striking dramatic professionalism.
Ali can’t take it. Her phone relentlessly buzzes with an influx of a multitude of messages. It has engulfed her. She just can’t take the bombardment, so she retweets mindfulness posts on Twitter to nourish her followers with their daily digest.
Her entrapment in this digital web is a theme to which we can all comfortably relate (anxious expressions worn on the punters who struggle to manage with the lack of telephone service at the Vaults is an effortless example). Yet, Capasso rips this tool of clean, universal relatability to shreds because, as with all our digital addictions, it’s only just the beginning of the story.
What follows is a psychological rollercoaster, a narrative of despair, madness and violence that ebbs and flows in resistance to a chronological truth. With conviction akin to King Lear’s tragic frenzy, and mysteriousness created with spoken word and shadowed meaning, Ali leads us into the depths of what happened on the night in question. A fractured remainder of the different “version” of herself she used to be, Ali pieces together her psychotic episodes and resistance to medical anaesthetics with cat-calling and sexual abuse to her audience. In a moment of self-conscious introspection, fearing she is now a “twisted human”, Ali powerfully snaps at the audience gawking at her sadness, “But what the fuck are you?”
Ali’s terror no doubt leaves several instances of electrifying goosebumps. If a piercing performance of the mind is something you are after, you will not be disappointed.