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Das Fest


Das Fest at The Vaults, Waterloo, London

“It was a bit dull and, ironically, predictable”

Philipp Oberlohr presents a one-man show that is slow, methodical and precise. He slips into artistic moments of contemplation, drowned in a spotlight, uttering Freudian statements to break up the production.

Everyone in the audience has a piece of paper, a pencil and an envelope under their seats. We are split into two - one half have to note down a happy memory, the other a dare to oneself or a challenge to be faced. All are then placed in two upturned umbrellas and throughout, Oberlohr removes random envelopes and predicts what it says inside, sometimes bringing people onto the stage with him.

He’s an illusionist. A magician. A mentalist. Announced on the posters as Austria’s Derren Brown. In the end - this evening is one very long, thoughtful, dramatic magic trick, stretched over an hour.

There are the expected jokes and audience participation. His previous show, Das Spiel (The Game), won the People’s Choice Award at VAULT 2016. This production, as part of the VAULT Festival, Das Fest (The Party), lacks in atmosphere and pace. Although incredibly watchable, Oberlohr, although warm and likeable, managed to pick an audience member who hindered the act through incompetence - the problem really coming from Oberlohr himself not being clear in his instructions. English is not his first language, obviously. But neither was the volunteer’s, so confusion reigned. Some mind reading was obviously ditched in order to move on, but Oberlohr never quite looked secure in his control of the show, thinking on his feet.

What this shows is that Das Fest has great potential to impress an audience (and, undeniably, some people around me were genuinely shocked by his correct predictions about the contents of their envelopes or about their private lives) but, on this evening’s showing, he needs more confidence and just a tad more showmanship. Only once did a prediction get a spontaneous and impressive round of applause - all the others were thrown away without a punchline to encourage us to show our appreciation.

Perhaps, here is the point. The production, although competent, is simply not joyous. Considering the title - this is not a party one would hang around for. It was a bit dull and, ironically, predictable. The staging is all black and oppressive. It needs, in more ways than one, some lightness.

Photography: Daniel Haingartner

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

Running: Until Sunday March 4th 2018 at 7.45pm

Saturday March 3rd Matinee at 3.15pm

Running Time: 60+ minutes

Tickets: £13 from

Author: Philipp Oberlohr

Dramaturg: Daniel Haingartner

Director: Margot Newkirk Grambow

Producer: Cristina Catalina

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