REVIEW – SAD-VENTS – WHITE BEAR THEATRE

Eleanor Hill writes and stars in her debut one-woman, tragicomedy show exploring mental health, heartbreak, toxicity, and the effects that life events carry through relationships while also experimenting with the use of digital elements filming live throughout. Sad-Vents is a journey through many hard-hitting topics, which Hill lists at the beginning of the performance, allowing plenty of opportunity for anyone to take time away from the show once it has started as well as setting the tone for how deep it will get.

Sad-Vents is unique in that it invites the viewer to use their phone during the show, yet the audience did not due to wanting to experience the rawness of the show in the moment.

Immediately upon entering the intimate venue we were greeted with a chaotic looking set of a bedroom with props scattered all over the floor consisting of wrappers, a skateboard, empty bottles, and tripod stands, to name a few. LED strips lit up the edges of the space and a large projector screen displayed lighthearted social media videos of the actress.

Hill’s performance is captivating from the time entering the space as she talks directly to the audience one-to-one with authenticity and an air of casualness. The story is structured into chapters which are clearly stated by the projector; this added a clear semi-autobiographical feel to the concept. The chapters are then segmented into snippets of something that felt comparable to a Netflix sitcom. Hill’s great writing is mixed with choreographed sections and multimedia during transitions and scenes. This made the show feel very modernised and engaging. It’s a heavy handed tech-based show that bowls straight to the point. Hill speaks of the loss of her mother then just blissfully snaps to her relationships with ex partners, doctors, and even apples! The show is riddled with references to internet-based humor and topics of general discussion that we so often put into Google search bars but never reveal. Hill leaves nothing to the imagination and then some by adding a big dance number of WAP in the middle going beyond the realms of any expectations you would enter the show with.

Hill’s acting ability is showcased extensively in her compelling emotive vulnerability. While some gripping moments do not need to be shown in full for the audience to understand what is happening, this is truly powerful to watch. Although there were no moments in which we looked away or felt disconnected from the performance, there was also not a time in which we gasped nor teared up, which we are very surprised by a piece such as this. In contrast, there were moments of pure laughter from the whole audience, which shows how well-constructed the show is to allow such moments during sensitive dialogue.

Hill’s brutal and traumatic writing leaves the audience member wondering, “How will this end?” She effortlessly spills, pleads, and twists the daggers of her heroine’s demise. However, the audience is never sure where the line of one trauma connects to the next because she speaks into a lagging phone. Though the show was estimated to run at 1 hour and 20 minutes, this was not the case, as it ended at around 2 hours 10 with a surprise intermission of 15 minutes which felt unnecessary. A few edits and more opportunities to include the audience are needed to make it a truly ‘immersive’ play.

Although there are attempts at immersive elements and digital uses, we feel these didn’t work to the best of their abilities in this performance due to technical issues. There is a need for further development and for audiences to be more open to using their phones throughout. In saying this, knowing that the show comes from just three weeks of research and development, there is no doubt in how impressive this piece is for the time frame. It is still on a journey of discovery and adaptations, and we would be interested to re-watch the show in the future to see how it has evolved from this time around. Sad-Vents has a lot of potential.

Never peeling away from shredding the gritty, truthful, emotional rollercoaster that Hill so eloquently speaks, Sad-Vents leaves the audience both cringing and laughing at the matter at hand. You feel as though you should never blink an eye in this pseudo-immersive based play in case you miss something. And believe me, the danger of reliving such trauma does beg the question, “Should I be watching this?” But the answer is yes, you should, especially if you’re over the age of 18.

Overall, we feel the performance provides excellent deliverance and a true masterclass in the performance of a one-woman show. If you want to be immersed in an experimental, edgy performance that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, and is raw and honest, then don’t miss Sad-Vents at the White Bear Theatre on until the 25th of June 2022! This show is most certainly going to go places, so catch it in its early stages and await the potential it offers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW – SAD-VENTS – WHITE BEAR THEATRE

  1. Sadvents
    Eleanor certainly had something to say and how well she said it. She is very talented; the writing, the thoughts and guts, and of course amazing acting skill. A solo performance covering very difficult subject matter with sad home truths, moving, who couldn’t feel uncomfortable? However Eleanor allowed us to hear her, to listen and to experience the trauma yet she used humour to ease our ride and very clever use of media to share this tale. Captivating throughout.

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