Chloe Mashiter
Dissolve Theatre
The Vaults, London

Holly Campbell as Leo

As part of the Vault Festival 2014 Spark is performed in a dank arch that brings with it it’s own atmosphere. Running at 50 minutes this one-woman play suits the cavernous space and the trains rumbling overhead even add to the ominous feel of the production.

In the opening scene, we meet a drunk and emotional Leo who speaks of her soldier boyfriend whose leave has been altered. It paints a picture of a lonely individual who lives only for the love of their partner and is something for which Leo later apologises to the audience. This breaking of the fourth wall only takes place occasionally but is effective as it adds an additional surreal layer to the piece.

What follows is a vivid narration of what happens when soldier Will finally returns from home and surprises Leo with a marriage proposal. This is when the story takes a more sinister turn and the plot begins to fragment as Leo’s narration becomes more erratic.

As Leo, Holly Campbell brings a great energy to the stage and skillfully navigates her way through masses of descriptive text. With only subtle lighting and sporadic use of atmospheric music, the drama genuinely relies upon her storytelling skills and versatility as an actress to make it work.

She is able to flit from emotion to emotion with ease and even manages to create a few laughs during the opening scene. The magic tricks that she performs are neatly interwoven and it is obvious from her body language that she is a practiced physical theatre performer.

The piece, a modern interpretation of the German tale Lenore, is engaging because of Campbell’s performance and Chloe Mashiter’s rich text but fails to quite deliver the emotional impact that might have been achievable as the last scene feels rushed.

Overall, however, this is an intriguing way to spend 50 minutes and the story is haunting enough that I intend to read the original.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston

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