BWW Review: NOTCH, VAULT Festival
Croatian writer and performer Danaja Wass brings her latest project Notch to VAULT Festival directed by Madelaine Moore. While the piece still needs to smooth out some of its crinkles, it's a precise exploration of emigration, homelessness, and people's hypocrisy.
Wass writes a clever and revelatory address, detailing the indifference and humiliation that comes with begging on the street and the impossibility of rising above one's station as an immigrant without funds and a failing mental health.
The social critique and denunciation of the socio-economical divide that prevents her from changing her situation is blunt and unforgiving. Her delivery is fiery in her invective, but the actress is unafraid to display a more vulnerable side when the private sphere of her person is concerned.
A television in the background alternates episodes from Irish talk-shows to static and images that seemingly come from A.A.'s subconscious and memories. The titles that imply a sort of division in chapters are quick and nearly unreadable, which is marginally counterproductive for the desired outcome.
The outer structure of the production seems slightly confusing too: it makes complete sense when the content is considered from a distance, but the single scenes don't seem to correlate too clearly when they're happening.
Moore's direction is, however, compelling and her tonal shuffling highlights the qualities of the show that lean into black comedy. Martha Godfrey supports this with a suggestive lighting design that moves Wass' character A.A. throughout the action.
The script is impressive in its imagery and denotes a gorgeous writing style from Wass, but ends rather abruptly and without a solid final statement. The potential of the play is right there, simmering below the surface, and the festival is certainly the appropriate place to build its foundation.
Image credit: Steve Gregson