Paradise in The Vault
It’s feels appropriate that this play is staged in the Paradise Vaults—the curved brick arches framing the stage, the white paint perfect for projections. This is just as well for Vichy Goings On is a play that rapidly moves locations and the snapshots are welcome markers of time and place.
World War Two might be over but the intrigue continues as at the start of the Cold War our protagonist discovers that pretty much everyone is out to get him. They all want his stolen gold and they all want information on a secret Nazi base in Antarctica.
In the style of an old school spy thriller (with more than a hint of Dr Strangelove), we meet a devious female agent, incompetent British handler, loudmouth American, ‘nice’ Nazi and a host of other exuberant characters. It’s a parody that starts subtly before descending into a world of its own.
The performances are all well judged, the grotesque characters played reasonably straight and a full range of accents utilised for comic effect. Costuming is also effective with the archetypes recognisable at a glance and the use of music during scene changes evoking the right atmosphere before the start of each scene.
The script however treads a fine line between satire and silliness. Despite plenty of plot points, the pace is rather glacial and in some ways it takes itself too seriously to count as parody. There is also no real sense of peril within the adventure despite the best efforts of the cast.
Vichy Goings-on is a flight of fancy with a strong cast, however the laughs are few and far between as the plot moves from ridiculous to downright bizarre.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston