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Kicking All the Boxes review at the Vaults, London – ‘engrossing new writing’

Liz FitzGibbon in Kicking All the Boxes at Vault Festival, London

Liz FitzGibbon’s Kicking All the Boxes is a short, sharp punch of a show. Written and performed by the Irish actor, it uses three stylistically different monologues and some intensely physical passages to piece together a patchwork picture of Naoise – a freshly 30-year-old, former kick-boxing champion from Cork with anger management issues.

The overlapping monologues are different in tone, each presenting a different side of Naoise’s character. In one straightforward story, she describes her struggles to stay calm, dropping in little hints of a backstory involving an assault on her gran and an appearance in court. In another, Naoise swims in a stream-of-consciousness, vaguely alluding to an abusive relationship. In the third, FitzGibbon recreates a romantic encounter with a bruising but bubbly Australian bloke.

It is by turns engrossing and elusive: the trick is to let it wash over you. It’s not supposed to be an easily-grasped, a-to-b tale of obstacles overcome, but a stitched-together portrait of life as a woman in Southern Ireland, offered through a series of swift, slippery snapshots.

And in that, it’s quite sophisticated, thanks to a flickering, febrile performance from FitzGibbon, who throws herself into the physical passages with aggression, and to Aonghus Og McAnally’s direction, which aptly utilises the music of Irish punk poet Jinx Lennon. Particularly sophisticated, in fact, considering that it’s Fitzgibbon’s debut as a writer.

There’s a lot of work at this year’s Vault Festival hailing from the Irish fringe. Here’s an early highlight.

Vault Festival’s head of theatre Gillian Greer: ‘It’s intimidating, there are a lot of artists to support’

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Writer-performer Liz FitzGibbon’s engrossing, elusive one-woman show