Monday, 6 March 2017

REVIEW: The Lock in at the Vaults Festival


London really is a place where you can travel anywhere in the world without actually leaving the city. I was reminded of that this week at the Vault Festival during the Celtic season, with the musical play The Lock In, written by Joseph Cullen. It attracted a large crowd eager to sing and banter along to its Irish story.

Part of the Over the Limit trilogy, this show taking place in The Pit took us back to the Irish tale of Niall of the Nine Hostages (or were they eight?!), the legendary High King of Ulster who, because he was such a womaniser, could possibly have three million descendants today!

One of the great things about this show for me was the music. The cast was talented and versatile, and switched between the storytelling and their instruments. Emmy Stonelake played the accordion and the flute, Eddy Massarella and Rory Quinn played the guitar, as well as Ian Horgan, and Andy Burse was at the Cajon. The whole cast also sang beautifully.

The cast were all very much participating in the story and the cut-ins referring to today’s Ireland, but Eamonn, played by Ian Horgon, gave most of the delivery, also walking around the audience. The audience was sat as if in a pub, with asymmetrically placed benches around the room. This gave Horgon space to move around, use audience members to tell his tale, and give everyone more eye contact! I do somehow wish that the other cast members had also been more involved in the mythical storytelling, and had perhaps joined Horgon in the crowd.

This brings me to the directing by Sinead O’Callaghan. There really was potential to give more visual effects to the story, for example with the musicians miming some of the funny moments in the story. What is more, the play opens with the idea that the musicians have just stopped playing and are sending their audience away. For me, this contradiction between us coming in and them telling us to go away again made me feel like they could have done something with that idea – perhaps through dialogue or different staging. I admit this is of course difficult, as the stage was small and the musicians needed space and a certain immobility to be ready to play their instruments.

All this being said, I really enjoyed the proximity and the feeling of friendship
between the cast members. They were not afraid to add in their own unscripted jokes (from what I understood) and they listened to their audience. There was a lot of energy coming from the stage, and references to Ireland’s place in the world today. Indeed, as was pointed out, wherever you may go, you will probably run into an Irish pub! Guinness! The colour green! The potency of this culture is indeed felt everywhere, and there are so many mythical stories behind it that many never really hear about. I did enjoy them revealing this particular one to me.


This production was an ode to the impact of Irish culture today and a fun night with its pub-like atmosphere, its storytelling, music and teasing.

Review by Sophie Tergeist 

Rating: ★★★

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