Review: FREAK OUT!, VAULT Festival

A brilliantly chaotic farewell to the East Anglia coast from an ingenious young company.

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MATILDA THE MUSICAL Announces West End Extension; See New Footage From the Show!The town of Portsford is slowly slipping into the sea. Its townspeople have just been granted the right to £12,000 of compensation due to the rapidity in which they're going to lose their homes. Some of them are resigned to starting a life elsewhere, but others want to keep fighting. So, they set up a fundraiser to build the sea wall the government refuses to put up. It might buy them only 15 years, but they're positive it will help. Many, however, think it's a lost cause and aren't willing to raise their hopes. Freak Out! is an impressive show.

Coin Toss Collective develop a production that celebrates the beauty of the coast and laments its loss. Half love letter, half mourning song, it's surprisingly and suddenly hilarious with an undertone of impending doom and exceptionally ingenius flair. The cast - Weronika Dwornik, Claudia Kurucz, Lydia Lakin, Rosie Mullaney, Ben Notice, Sophia Oriogun-Williams, Alyssa Thomas, and Sol Woodroffe - change tones at the speed of light in a layered, multi-dimensional piece.

They start off with the role that the beach and the sea have in people's life. We hear personal, tender takes: for some it's history, Christmas, home, for others it's unbridled potential, peace, or a place they take for granted. An inventive and vibrant direction matches a uniquely fresh dramatic approach. They combine physical comedy and slapstick with an issue-led narrative that peels back the irreparable damage of climate change.

The cast become sea spray during eloquently visual interludes rooted in physical storytelling, or exchange dialogue that's seamlessly interrupted by their dunking their head into buckets until the other has finished speaking. They distribute cake to the audience and lead games that involve the crowd first-hand and act as a respite from the intense atmosphere of the party they're staging.

The exodus from the coast is unavoidable. Each character's circumstances, decisions, and involvement are all equally valid whether they decide to stay out of duty and loyalty or leave towards safer shores. At the very end of the show, a projected text gives more information on coastal erosion from a survey done in Happisburgh in Norfolk. Its statistics are shocking. We lose an unbelievable amount of sand each year and homes keep crumbling.

Coin Toss Collective are an exceptionally creative young company. Freak Out! highlights a problem that wouldn't cross the mind of the average British person who lives in the inland. They deliver an amusing, chaotic farewell to East Anglia. Who would've thought that a show about coastal erosion would be so cool!

Freak Out! runs at the Network Theatre for VAULT Festival until 19 March.

VAULT Festival has been left without a venue for next year. You can contribute to the #SaveVAULT campaign here.


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From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina... (read more about this author)



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