DramaLondonReviewVAULT Festival

Woman! Pilot! Pirate? – VAULT Festival, London

Creators: Grace Lyons Hudson and Samuel Kemp

Reviewer:  Richard Maguire

‘The edge of the world is no place for a girl’ sing the two actors in this offbeat homage to Amelia Earhart, who vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 while trying to fly around the world. Mixing mime and live music, Woman! Pilot! Pirate?is endearing, but is still rough around the edges.

An hour is a long time for a mime show, but while Grace Lyons Hudson, who plays the book-shop assistant who goes back in time to find Earhart, clowns around on stage, Samuel Kemp provides some voices, and, with his loop pedal, some stirring music. Together they create a world of old-fashioned adventure as Hudson flies to The Pacific Islands in search of her hero.

Some of the scenes work well here like the episode where some island-dwellers give Hudson a drug, which, remarkably, seems to have the same effects as ecstasy. As she dances, open-mouthed on stage, Kemp conjures up a pulsing beat with his keyboard and guitars. Other scenes are not so well crafted, and they only confuse an already confused narrative.

Hudson and Kemp are part of Pareidolia Theatre, a company that creates work with disabled artists, and for their run at The Vault Festival they are using The Difference Engine captioning service where captions are relayed to the smartphones of people with hearing difficulties. And importantly, Hudson’s miming skills are clear too. She is a very expressive clown.

However, it’s not always clear to whom this show is pitched. Its fairy-tale structure and its echoes of Alice in Wonderland suggest it’s aimed at children, but some of the scenes seem to be too drawn out for those under 12. Also, the boat/plane structure that Hudson dutifully pushes around the stage does not hold quite enough surprises for a young audience. But then again, Woman! Pilot! Pirate?is not quite an adventure story for adults either.

Sometimes inventive, and sometimes absurd, Paredolia’s show is charming, but it needs more work if it isn’t to get lost in the same way as the hero they desire to emulate

Runs until 3 March 2019 | Image: Contributed

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