REVIEW: LITTERATI (The Vaults) ★★★★

It’s sweet Millie’s big opportunity. She is excited and nervous about being asked by VICE to write an exposé about a mysterious underground and secretive community called the Litterati.

Millie lives with her loving girlfriend, Hattie, in trendy Clapham. Hattie is steady and sensible and works in insurance in the City, she also cares deeply for Millie and wants to love and protect her.

Millie has ambitions to be a serious journalist. Now is her chance. She is writing an investigatory article, for VICE about the Litterati, a notoriously dangerous community of which, in reality, nothing is known except wild speculation. Despite Hattie’s protestations, Millie accepts the task and agrees to spend a week, daytime only, with the four person commune interviewing members and teasing out their reason for being.

Millie is an innocent. An ever so slightly posh, privately educated young lady. She is totally unsuitable for the assignment. However, sensibly dressed and with notebook in hand, she turns up at the squat ready to investigate. Nervous but determined.

The Litterati are a small commune of drop outs, drug fuelled and suspicious of Millie and her motives for writing the article. However Dux, the undisputed group leader, having given her blessing to VICE to write the piece, is prepared, within limits, to give Millie her chance.

VICE had pre-arranged Millie’s access to the Litterati but some of the individuals are still suspicious. Dux, the powerful black working class leader of the group, is aggressive towards Millie from the outset and is indomitable in her defence of both the individuals and the structure of her tight knit group. Sunny, the most recent member to join the group, enjoys being threatening towards the somewhat timid Millie.

Dux’s second in command, Twix is a kindly trusting young man totally unlike Dux. He is good looking and personable and clearly attracted to Millie despite her sexual orientation. He looks after Millie, defending her against Sunny who tends to swing unexpectedly between friendly and wildly aggressive. The fourth member of the Litterati is the young, very serious, introverted and poetic Reeda.

This is a new story by the very talented Isla van Tricht, writer of 2016’s VAULT Festival’s hit production, Underground. Isla was educated at York University and RADA. She is a playwright and theatre producer for the Shrapnel Theatre Company.

The play is multi-layered. It is about love and trust on one level while on another level it is about understanding between different lifestyles. It is both dramatic and funny, sad and joyful. It is about innocence and awakening. An excellent play written by a very talented young writer and performed by a talented group of young actors.

The Vaults Festival produces excellent production after excellent production and deserves a wider appreciation. Do try to catch The Litterati if you can and some of the other shows too.

The Vaults Theatre comprises a number of theatrical spaces which are used simultaneously and often for a number of consecutive performances in a single evening. The bar is also very nice and the staff are friendly.

Reviewed by Graham Archer

Litterati plays at The Vaults Theatre, Waterloo until 29 January 2017