Elsa review at Vaults, London – ‘sweetly skewers millennial angst’
Isobel Rogers’ solo show sees her sitting on a stool with her guitar in one of the more oppressively damp spaces at Vaults. She has a sweet voice – containing flashes of Emiliana Torrini – and a facility for capturing people’s characters in verse.
She plays Elsa, a waitress working in a cafe, listening in on her customer’s conversations as she prepares their oat milk lattes while waiting for her life as an artist to begin.
She sings about breezy unreliable guys, 40-something female executives, and the way that couples behave with one another over their avocado toast. She has a good eye – or rather ear – for this kind of thing. There are jokes about gluten intolerance, veganism, Instagram, and the etiquette of modern dating.
But while Rogers’ is an amiable performer, there’s an absence of momentum here, the show never really goes anywhere, despite director Sara Joyce’s efforts to create texture and Zoe Spurr’s lighting shifting between songs. The various vignettes, while pleasing in themselves, don’t build up to anything and it’s difficult to gauge quite how satirical the piece is intended to be. This is a bigger problem, most evident in a cringe-inducing rap number where Elsa lists the “money jobs” she does to get by, mostly in the service industry. It’s so privilege-blind it verges on the distasteful – hopefully that was her intention, but it’s unclear.
Rogers is good at skewering millennial angst about sex, social media, food, ambition and opportunity, but the show as a whole is very gentle, like being licked by a kitten.
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