Theatre in Wales

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Devastating physicality

At Company of Sirens

Company Of Sirens- Dark Vanilla Jungle , Chapter, Cardiff , March 10, 2015
At Company of Sirens by Company Of Sirens- Dark Vanilla Jungle “I was stung by a bee once.” So begins the opening to Philip Ridley’s most current play, the powerful one hander Dark Vanilla Jungle, performed by Company of Sirens. A story with a sting, Ridley’s play is topical indeed, arriving as it does in the wake of child abuse scandals throughout the country. Nineteen-year old Welsh College of Music and Drama undergraduate, Seren Vickers, plays sixteen-year old Andrea, who might have been one of the Rotherham girls, with a story to match. Vickers gives a staggering performance, her youth and physicality devastating the bare stage whilst she chalks words and images onto a raised block.

The script is a tight monologue, a feat of memory from Vickers, who whisks the audience on a fractured, painful journey that ekes out moments of humour. Leading us through a pleasant all-girl childhood with her single mum, to a life of neglect heralded by the return of her oppressive father, Andrea falls into the hands of child sex exploiters who deal her like cards to ‘friends’ in squalid sex parties.

The damaged and pregnant Andrea eventually escapes her abusers by switching her affections to a gravely injured vegetative soldier she discovers in hospital, embedding herself into his family in a misplaced attempt to gain protection from the only type of man she can trust.
Uncompromising to the last, these scenes square up to the audience and dare us to look away. We don't, and what we are faced with is an indictment on all of us; a challenge to middle class theatre-goers to think again about the subjugation of women in the universal context and our impotence in the face of it.

Another piece of unmissable theatre from Company of Sirens, their third in a series of Philip Ridley plays.

Reviewed by: Tracey Rhys

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