BWW Reviews: BUKOWSKI'S CASS, The Vaults, March 4 2014

BWW Reviews: BUKOWSKI'S CASS, The Vaults, March 4 2014

On arrival, we're offered a shot glass of vodka, as we eye a man slumped in a chair looking like he has indulged in rather more. But, off stage through a narrator, his voice is strong and clear and soon we're hearing of his relationship with the mysterious girl, veiled in black, who shares the space. It's no fairytale.

Opera Viscera's Bukowski's Cass (part of The Vault Festival, continuing until 8 March) is based on Charles Bukowski's poem, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, using much of its text supplemented by dance, song, music, photographs and mime. This multi-disciplinary approach suits the source material's rhythm and aesthetic, though the (very) American style jars a little when delivered with (mainly) English accents.

As Cass, Kitty Dalton spends a lot of time on the floor and is better when miming or dancing, rather than spitting out speech that reveals the despair of the part-time hooker. James Fowler shambles around as her drunk on/off lover, but he also comes alive in dance rather than drama. Best of all are the understated band (Camilo Tirado and Andrew Gorman) whose often gentle melodies contrast strongly with the pain all around them.

Bukowski is never feelgood and never easy, but he's as relevant today as ever and, in the vaults under Waterloo Station, this production boldly brings his work to a London that looks more like Bukowskiland with every passing day.

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Gary Naylor Gary Naylor is chief reviewer for and feels privileged to see so much of London's theatre.

He writes about cricket at and also for The Guardian, Spin Cricket and Channel Five and commentates at His writing on films and other subjects is at

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