BWW Review: ASHES, VAULT Festival
Shaun Amos explores the relationship with his deceased father in Ashes, a confused piece of dark comedy that doesn't reach the desired objective. First presented at The Arcola Theatre Scratch Night, it's a rollercoaster. Amos details his childhood and family life with sincerity and brashness, depicting a troubled youth and making no excuses for it.
The drugs-and-alcohol infused talk to his dad's ashes leads Amos to give a solid performance: he switches between accents and personalities with ease and delivers a heartfelt message of redemption and understanding. Amos has the basis to be a notable actor and writer but, unfortunately, the piece per se doesn't achieve its best capacity.
Leon Yianni's direction seems smooth at the start but takes an unexpected (and not in a good way) turn in the final part. What should be a poignant and crucially intimate moment for the character becomes a baffling and stagnant resolution when the father is introduced in the flesh as actor Marcus Kinsella.
The non-speaking role is a tool to get to Shaun's healing, but comes off as an easy and visually cliché (if not even sloppy) conclusion. The bigger confrontation happens in the first half of the play when Amos is breaking himself to pieces to understand what's going on within himself.
Ashes tries to be too many things, swiftly touching on sexuality and gender identity too briefly for it to make a statement nor adding anything to the storyline. The show certainly has all the right hints of tragedy, irony, and restitution but this production doesn't fulfil its potential and remains rather perplexing.