Two performers enter the space, they introduce themselves as Chloe and Lekhani, and from the start audience participation is incorporated, as they ask audience members to arrange the set for them. Then the play begins, with the two assuming their roles as Bridgette and Amara respectively. These dips in and out of character prevail throughout the run time, with metatheatrical devices frequently employed.

Nicole Acquah’s Burnout centres around the topic of climate justice, the play follows Amara (Lekhani Chirwa) and Bridgette (Chloe Wade) as they meet at a protest. Bridgette describes herself as an activist, and Amara is finishing school. They both live in a town which is currently flooded, something which has been reoccurring increasingly regularly due to climate change.

Nic Farr’s set is inventive, objects are scattered in the space and the audience is asked to rearrange them at points to create the settings the play calls for. Although these moments of audience participation could be rather anxiety-inducing, particularly when they turn the house lights up and ask people to come on stage, people were thankfully happy to oblige. Apart from demonstrating that the climate crisis is a collective problem which affects us all, I can’t quite see the need for this audience participation, or indeed the need for quite so much of it. I can’t help but feel there could be a better thought-out way of highlighting this message, as stopping the show to involve the audience disrupts the flow, plus it feels like a way to fill the run time.

Both performers are excellent, Wade brings the witty lines to life in their razor-sharp delivery and is engaging throughout; Chirwa’s Amara is likeable and relatable in her journey from wanting to help to burnout.

Caitlin Evans’ production has a great concept, and Amara’s storyline is interesting, however, within its current form the play lacks nuance and incorporates a few too many metatheatrical devices. Although these devices are meant to elevate the storytelling, they instead disrupt the flow of the play and our connection to the characters. It feels as though too many ideas have been incorporated and some scaling back is required, the karaoke performance of Lennon’s Imagine is again a moment which does not add anything to the overall message of the play. Some editing is necessary, as the story is an important one to tell, it’s essential to ensure the audience listens and takes in every message, and in its current form, I’m unsure they will.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


VAULT Festival has been left without a venue for 2024’s festival and beyond
• VAULT Festival have launched a #SaveVAULT campaign
• The campaign aims are to raise £150,000 by 19th March to support the festival’s survival AND to secure a new home for the festival to continue.
• You can help by donating, helping access funding networks, and helping then find a venue.
• You are officially implored to make the most of 2023’s Festival while it lasts!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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