What’s the strangest job interview you’ve ever had? I bet it doesn’t come close to Belinda’s. Shouted at and belittled from the moment she enters the door, it seems she’s made an instant enemy in interviewer Francine – Marla, on the other hand, is a little more laidback about everything. And so begins Cat Kolubayev’s play Bin Juice, currently running at this year’s VAULT Festival, directed by Anastasia Bruce-Jones.
The first thing to say is that it makes truly excellent use of the Cavern space. Set up in the traverse (as is often the case), but in the less usual ‘shortways’ position (i.e. everything’s been moved around 90 degrees). This works far better for the audience, as the sight lines are immediately improved, and acoustically it also seems to be an improvement – nothing gets lost, even in this cavernous space.
Structurally it’s also very intriguing, flipping from the interview to Marla and Francine at work (at that point it’s unclear whether we’ve made a linear progression or flashed back), before returning to the office again and continuing with the story. Moving the action diagonally across the performance space when we return to the office adds to the tease over the timeline a little – plus it’s another great way of allowing the audience to see everything.
The script is incredibly funny, combining dark humour with some slightly more surreal interjections (mostly from Marla) and one-liners. The ambiguity over the chronology definitely keeps you engaged and wanting to know more, as does the pacing; it never feels like it’s starting to drag (and that can happen in a 60-minute show), building and building as you get to know the characters a little better. To me it’s slightly reminiscent of Inside No. 9 in the way it develops – you get the feeling there are twists and reveals coming, but good luck trying to work them out!
Adeline Waby is terrific as non-nonsense Francine, brash and confident – and quick with a put-down. Less sure of herself is interviewee Belinda, most of the time played quite placidly by Helena Antoniou, though with flashes of aggression and hints of a secret lurking just beneath the surface. Madison Clare has a great time with the role of Marla, displaying impeccable comic timing (“Never trust a man who deals with fish”) as well as a vulnerability linked to her past. Together, the trio are absolutely top-notch.
My verdict? A thrilling & funny play, with twists to rival Inside No. 9 – a definite must-see at this year’s VAULT Festival.
Bin Juice runs at the VAULT Festival until 15 March 2020. Tickets are available online or from the box office.