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Theatre Review: The Lights @ The Spring Vauxhall

Fancy going to the theatre this week darling?


Why not watch men kick each other in the nuts in a Vauxhall warehouse...

The Lights follows two adults struggling against the hatefulness and loneliness of city life. Set in a small warehouse across the green from Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the audience sit on pallet crates and gymnasium horse boxes whilst the characters joke, argue and fight each other around the industrial space. For one scene the audience are led into a back yard where two waiters on their fag break yakked with a jaded former employee. In another we sit in darkness while a woman is ambiguously raped on the floor.
 
Catherine Nix Collins (pictured) was fantastic as Rose, a stuck-in-a-rut store assistant who craves sexual attention and life fulfilment. In one scene, drinking wine around a table, she perfectly captured that well-known escalation from good-humoured friend to intoxicated and demanding beast. Halfway through Act II she was basically Ke$ha. Brendan Murphy (also pictured) was good too, playing the part of Frederik, a frustrated and financially struggling young man who finds himself pushed by constant persecution into a downwards spiral of anger, selfishness and violence. Frankie Haynes gave an adorable performance as Lillian, an out-of-town girl whose undefined sense of hope and ambition is smeared by her fatal sympathy streak.
 
In London it is easy to be blinded by the glare of dazzling big-budget shows like We Will Rock You, Priscilla and the likes of, and consequently forget that London also has a rich and challenging alternative theatre scene. London has actually been putting on daring and twisted plays of this warehouse sort for fifty years now, but we still image associate “going to the theatre” with velvet spring-chairs and bollocksy chandelier chit-chat.

Whilst it’s great fun to take in the jaw-dropping spectacles like Wicked! and ride on their exhilarating adrenaline rush, I find these smaller more unusual plays are a much more fruitful way to fill a weekday evening.
 
The hard part is knowing which alternative plays to pay attention to. You don’t want to travel to Walthamstow and find that you’ve paid £10 to watch someone wearing a duvet cover reciting the periodical table. This one, The Lights, is well worth going along to. I stumbled upon it by chance because I follow Jennifer Pearce from the Menier Chocolate Factory on Twitter, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye on Define Choice in future.
 
The Lights by Define Choice is on at The Spring in Vauxhall, at 7.30pm tonight (Wednesday 26 October), Friday and Sunday. You can buy tickets here for £12.50.

Photography by Laura Marie Linck
Words: Jack Cullen

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