Exactly Like You
VAULT Festival produced by Joe Brown and Matt Whayman
London's very own and very special theatre fest, VAULT Festival, got underway this week, and already from the dark tunnels under Waterloo Station shines a light.
Actress, spoken word artist and singer Lotte Rice has a luminescence about her that enhances her stage presence and makes her solo performance in Exactly Like You wholly engaging.
For an hour, she seamlessly morphs between the characters that inhabit her story, moving us from gentle pathos to gentle laughter and back again. Rice also has an attractive and confident singing voice that delivers snippets from the Nina Simone catalogue, more in celebration than imitation of the great woman's work.
That Lotte Rice appears confidently at home with the material she delivers is no coincidence since her talents extend to writing this ambitious piece of storytelling.
Adopting a highly poetic prose style, Rice's text is full of alliteration and internal rhyming. With the apparent precision of a Sondheim, she creates phrases that express more than the sum of their parts.
As the main character and narrator, Abby, grows into adolescence and the reality of her violent home life, she withers and slithers to a darker place, and later as she starts to hear an unexpected voice, the language beats a malevolent tempo … head … tread … dread.
This is writing full of lilts and rhythms that give the narration a compelling momentum, helping drive the story towards its conclusion. It is the fluency of the delivery from Rice the actress that delivers the constant flow of word patterns from Rice the author with a listenable timbre.
Rice's writing has another engaging aspect which is that for all the poeticism of the style, the content is freckled with mundane detail that makes Abby and her story so easy to relate to.
Abby is an imperfect heroine—she's regularly stotious, has serial one-night stands, gets zits. She is also very likeable and, when her story arrives at its uplifting ending and you hear "It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life For me" you want to join in with "And I'm feeling good".
VAULT Festival runs until 5 March.
Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti