The End and Other Beginnings

Minnie Wilkinson, music art by Sam Enthoven
VAULT Festival
The Spacement at The Glitch — VAULT Festival

The End and Other Beginnings - Minnie Wilkinson with Sam Enthoven

One of the joys of VAULT Festival is the range of shows available. One minute you can be watching a performance piece against labia-shaming and the next you can be enjoying some gentle storytelling from award-winning Minnie Wilkinson.

Scrunched up in a low-ceilinged basement with an audience that maxes out at under 30, the event has an easy intimacy that would be difficult to achieve in a larger setting.

Wilkinson is charmingly relaxed and there is not even a hint of swagger in her delivery, for which she adopts a pattern of repeated phrases, lending it an ad hoc tempo.

Her trio of stories are each bookended with a short song, but this is not the only music in the show, although calling sound artist Sam Enthoven's soundscape 'music' is to define it inadequately.

I have neither the 'musical' vocabulary nor the technical knowledge to describe Enthoven's output or instruments, but the sound art accompanies the storytelling pleasantly enough. For the most part, it lightly underscores the tone of story becoming most effective when simulating the evocative sound of bells or reinforcing moments of tension.

The text of Wilkinson's stories speaks loosely to a feeling of unease about the current state of the world. Starting in the middle piece, the story is that of Orpheus' attempted release of Eurydice from the clutches of Hades, with the now familiar twist where Eurydice takes control in the undoing of her rescue.

I am rather wearied of modern takes on ancient myths, but I did like that Wilkinson's Orpheus is so ineffectual that he does not go to the Underworld on his own initiative, but under his mother's instruction!

Wilkinson perhaps does not do herself any favours in letting on that she has not yet found the core of the third story, or perhaps she is managing expectations, as of the three this is the least well-formed.

An eco-themed message of man's responsibility towards earth set in a dystopian future, it has some moments of unease, but after a long introduction, the ending feels foreshortened rather than concluded.

Whilst this story takes listeners into a new world order and the second covers familiar ground, the first walks a line between the two. Grounded in a 1997 newspaper article, it winds a tale of Lucifer in present-day Miami around the everyday lives of the city's homeless, creating an eerie, Christianity-infused urban fantasy.

The following stories do not live up to the imagination, wit or balance of this opening, which also has the most interesting finish, but if endings can be beginnings then beginnings can be memorable endings.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti

Are you sure?