Poleroid Theatre have brought their acclaimed This Must Be The Place from 2016’s Latitude to this year’s VAULT Festival, playing for a few days in The Pit.
Rather than a single narrative, it combines two separate stories: the first about Adam and Lily, the second about Matty and Tate. Both are very much on the theme of migration and a feeling of home – Matty and Tate want a new life in London, whereas Adam has started to think he might feel more at home elsewhere. Both stories start at the beginning in terms of chronology, but it takes a while for them to unravel and lead us back to how they reached that point. It’s a compelling structure that serves to keep the audience transfixed.
Another key theme is that of connectivity. Nowadays we are more connected than ever, in a technological sense – but does that automatically mean we connect more as people, or has that been sacrificed? It is increasingly easy to live your entire life online without really thinking about it, and the ripple effect of suddenly going offline is potentially huge. It’s probably not possible for most of us to go completely off the grid, but what This Must Be The Place does is show the importance of stepping back every now and then, making sure we experience something tangible.
Brad Birch and Kenneth Emson’s script effortlessly switches between the two stories, even including something of a ‘chorus’ to push home the idea of connections and information overload.
Performed on a bare stage, with only microphones for company, it is an unexpectedly enthralling experience. This is probably, in part, down to the relatability of the topics the show covers; if you can instantly relate to something it’s bound to be more enticing. Sound effects (Kieran Lucas) are simple but effective, and Joe Price’s lighting also helps set the scene with ease, proving that props and sets aren’t always the be-all and end-all.
James Cooney and Molly Roberts take on the roles of Adam and Lily, in a narrative that’s slightly more serious and touching – whereas Hamish Rush and Feliks Mathur as Matty and Tate provide more of the laughs, though still have a big story to tell. Their performance style is quite lyrical at times, giving the feeling of modern-day balladeers.
My verdict? A creative approach to storytelling that is captivating from the off, and constantly thought-provoking – a must-see.
This Must Be The Place runs at the VAULT Festival until 12 February 2017. Tickets are available online or from the box office.