Beneath the atmospheric tunnels below Waterloo Station, Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden, a tale of death, adolescence and family secrets, has been cleverly adapted for Vault Festival 2014.
The story unfolds over two floors of one of the Vault’s long chambers, with the cellar containing the family secret beneath the beams. In spite of this challenging space, the actors play out their roles nimbly and precisely. It is emotional, but not melodramatic, striking a good balance.
George MacKay plays Jack, who is forced into early manhood upon the death of his father, and then of his mother, played by Victoria Gould. Ruby Bentall plays sister Julie, who becomes the matriarch of the small family, consisting of Sue (Georgia Clarke-Day) and Tom, who, as a baby, is imaginatively portrayed by a faceless paper puppet, perhaps indicating the innocence with which he faces the tragic circumstances unfolding around him.
He returns to face the aftermath as a man, played by David Annen. Jack is mentored by an imaginary character of Captain Hunt (Christopher Webster), from a science fiction novel, showing that although he must assume the role of an adult, he is still rooted in the innocent, child-like world of imagination and idealism, something that sustains and preserves both him and his siblings when reality strikes and the secret is uncovered.
The work is challenging, with heavy themes but the actors of FallOut Theatre rise to the challenge, and present a work which, although dark, ends with hope
The Cement Garden continues at Vault Festival until 8 March. Tickets are £20 +£1.50 Festival fee. Tickets may be booked on the Vault Festival website. Check out the many other performances at Vault Festival.
Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.