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Wrecked review at Vaults, London – ‘an intimate thriller performed in a car’

Wrecked at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Alex Brown Wrecked at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Alex Brown
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Fever Dream Theatre’s Wrecked boasts one of the bolder concepts of this year’s festival.

It’s a 45-minute thriller performed in a crashed car. Six audience members clamber into a totalled Vauxhall Zafira – three in the back, three in the middle, one in the passenger seat. A young woman (Kristy Bruce or Alice De Warrenne) is slumped over the steering wheel, blood stained on her forehead.

She regains consciousness, and has no idea how she got here. What follows is a hundred-mile-an-hour sprint down memory lane, a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of childhood recollections and recent events as Sam – that’s her name – frantically tries to recall why she’s just wrapped a stranger’s car around a tree.

As a theatrical space, the beat-up people-carrier really works. Or at least, it does from where I’m sat in the passenger seat. You’re less than a foot from the performer (De Warrenne the night I see it), close enough to see her face in intimate detail, to capture the tiniest ticks and tricks of her performance. From the backseats, a row of handily placed rearview mirrors provide a similarly intense vantage point.

Writer-director Jonathon Carr’s play is less successful. Blending first-person narrative with piped in dialogue, it takes too long to solve the jigsaw of Sam’s swirling memories, and doesn’t give the six-man audience enough to engage with before the pieces slot into place. It’s not punchy or powerful enough, until a blistering final five minutes. Also, on a cold February night, the Zafira’s heating really should be flicked on.

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An intimate but underwritten one-woman thriller set in a crashed car