I trudged through the snow and freezing wind on Thursday 1st March to watch The Strongbox as a part of the acclaimed Vaults Festival – and I wasn’t disappointed.
The play is not for the fainthearted – a bleak study of the symbiotic nature of abusive relationships, all set in one room over a period of time, during which we hear and see evidence of familial abuse and witness edge of your seat near torture. It makes for uncomfortable but enthralling viewing and is an extremely strong piece of all female theatre, with one of the three protagonists also the author.
The use of the stark space and audio visual effects added admirably to the atmosphere and the direction is to be particularly commended. While the piece only ran for an hour and 15 minutes (as is the nature of festival theatre), I came away feeling moved and exhausted from a thrilling piece of theatre, which packed in the drama so one did not feel shortchanged by the length.
There was not a weak link performance wise and Stephanie (as a strong female writer and actress) is definitely one to watch.
My only criticism (if there has to be one) is that I feel due to time constraints, the narrative arc tended toward resolution and there was a slight sacrifice of plausibility in order to give us a satisfying end which was slightly incongruous with the action.
This however is a minor complaint of what was in essence a thought provoking piece of theatre and I for one was heartened by the fact that while London seemingly ground to a halt with respect to transport, work and school, the Vaults was teeming with life and this production was nearly a full house. Bravo.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday