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Mimetic Festival: Mummy – The Vaults, London

Performer / Writer: Amy Gwilliam

Director / Writer: Sophie Larsmon

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

 

Mummy is part of the Mimetic Festival’s ‘work in progress’ stream so a formal review is a little pre-emptory, and it intends to head to Edinburgh Fringe next year with a final draft. The premise has potential; Elizabeth has locked herself in the attic in order to finish her thesis on Cleopatra the night before it’s due. Unable to concentrate she distracts herself among the memories her family has packed away and through them begins to revisit the past.

There is quite a bit of work still to do here in order to bring together the somewhat random strands of thought currently included in this production. A long time is wasted at the beginning as Elizabeth (Amy Gwilliam) rummages in boxes pulling out ‘meaningful’ items and even reading passages from a Heidi book, but the audience only met her 2 minutes before so it’s too early to have any proper emotional engagement with what she is doing. And dramatically, watching someone open boxes is as uninteresting as it sounds.

One subplot involves releasing an imaginary friend from one of the boxes who appears to be a tiny Australia goat with Gwilliam supplying the voice – utterly random and a little embarrassing to watch. Understandably it gives the character someone to talk to, but barely adds anything to the central plot that seems to be about dealing with grief over her mother’s death.

To take this to the next stage, the writers should simplify their material and stick with the mother / Cleopatra plot. The idea that a young Elizabeth saw her mother in a 70s kaftan than made her look like the Egyptian queen and this inspired her fascination with Cleopatra’s life is an interesting one and the parallels would give the narrative better focus. Dispensing with some of the wacky stuff, including an inexplicable dance section, would also make it more comfortable for the viewer. An interesting subject, but Mummy will need some refining if it wants to go to Scotland in the summer.

Runs until26 November

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