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The Lock In


The Lock In by Joseph Cullen at The Vaults, London SE1

“ The atmosphere fizzes as people jostle to find the right theatre space...”

Waterloo Station is right above your head, but you wouldn’t know it - apart from the odd grumble of a train - because The Vaults, deep beneath the station, are just as busy. If not busier.

It is gloomy down here, the lighting reminiscent of a futuristic film, but there is a buzz. The atmosphere fizzes as people jostle to find the right theatre space: Pit, Cage, Crescent, Studio, Cavern, Jazz Bar, Network Theatre. Performances occur simultaneously in all the spaces and there is a frisson of controlled panic about the place.

We found the bar easily enough, but the queue was annoying. Funny how no one seemed to be aware there is another bar directly above - and it was empty! We could smell the food of the restaurant, but had no idea where it was. The Vaults have created a whole evening for the discerning public - a bit of theatre/music/comedy, a drink or three, a place to eat.

The Lock In was one hour long - getting kicked out of the space so another performance could step in. Its slot being 6.15-7.15pm. It’s a veritable Edinburgh Festival down here...

We were ushered into a wriggly line outside The Pit and, finally, the doors opened. A little confusion - adding to the event - as we sought a free bench. Then the brilliant music stopped to allow the ‘theatre’ to begin. It is immersive and in your face: it is St. Patrick’s Day and we’re all locked in the pub. Tipsy and over-friendly Eamonn tells us the forgotten Irish tale of Niall and the Nine Hostages, using members of the audience to represent a variety of characters. His journey leads him inevitably to more drink until, by the end, inebriated, he plays and sings with the band.

[Emmy Stonelake, Andy Burse, Rory Quinn and Ian Horgan in rehearsal]

Eamonn, played by Ian Horgan, is affable enough, but somehow lacked the twinkle-in-the-eye of the drunk Irish storyteller that he was aiming to be. His many lapses in concentration led him to openly admit he had no idea what came next - at one point asking the band to play a song to cover, which of course they did.

It all added to the rough and ready occasion. Because, at the end of the day, who cares? Sinead O’Callaghan’s relaxed direction allows it to be funny and informative. The sometimes improvised banter between the musicians and Eamonn felt genuine enough. Special praise here to Andy Burse, playing Dave, on percussion. His persistent, dim-witted but heartfelt interruptions were perfect. The aforementioned band also including poster boy Rory Quinn, Emmy Stonelake and Eddy Massarella created a wonderfully vibrant live Irish sound in the bricked and cavernous archway.

Over The Limit Theatre have been at The Vault Festival all week, presenting a Celtic Season. The Witch’s Mark and Siren being their other two shows. One has a feeling that it has all been thrown together at short notice, which brings with it a certain charm and energy. But it does make one wonder how brilliant it could all be with just a little more precision.

Venue: The Vaults, Waterloo Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN

Venue Contact:

Over The Limit Theatre

Contact: Oran Doyle, or 07533431919

Facebook: /OLTTheatre

Twitter: @OTLTheatre

Instagram: @overthelimittheatre

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