Adventures and exploration: A clown show about rain

A series of notes on recent events I have been to, or adventures that I have had. Written to both record my thoughts and experiences, but also to encourage myself to actively seek out more. Use the ‘Adventures and Exploration’ category on this site to see related posts.

A Clown Show About Rain

In the evening of Wednesday 27th February 2019, a small audience of around 50-75 sat in tired seating, meters from the stage, and watched an unfolding tale about three sailors and one hiker as they weathered the same storm at sea and on land. Simultaneously, these four actors mused on the issues that arise from not having enough sandwiches or tea.

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Vault Festival programme.

This was a relatively short – but energetic – show, put on over the course of an hour in Vault Festival. The festival is a combination of multiple events, held in the vaults under London Waterloo between January 23rd and March 17th.  To be pithy, if you like your arts and entertainment, your shows or comedies, your unusual experiences, or just want to try something new, then go. It was lovely, and I enjoyed everything about it.

I don’t want to give away anything about the show, but was impressed with and enjoyed it. My applause at the end was from the heart, especially as the conclusion resonated with me. The voiceless show is performed by Silent Faces through mime. There is plenty of humour within it; on display in the expression of the actors, the inevitable stumbles and miscommunication, dance routines, and several other ways they use to convey meaning and intent without words. There is a gentle and sweet side to their shared adventure, and they do well to express what is going on with only a minimal number of props and a limited set, all against a black-curtained backdrop.

“Forth, Cromarty and Dogger take each day as it comes, but as the water levels rise, how will they cope with a broken umbrella and leaking wellies? Watch as they play, dance, seek and hide in this world of ever-changing weather.

Smashing together clowning with beautiful visual imagery and physical theatre, Silent Faces see what it is to try and battle the elements when our weather proofing is failing and explore how it can be possible to come together—in ourselves and with others—in order to carry on.”

Excerpt from the Vault Festival page about the show.

There’s a clever use of a radio to add narrative as they tune in and out of the stations, and I’ll admit that I now want to listen to the shipping forecast. They are helped in conveying the mood of each scene through the lighting and sound system; whether it be the idyllic swell of the calm boat at sea, or pushing through sheets of rain in a raging storm, the light and sound provides.

And a welcome crossing of the fourth wall bought a willing audience into the show, an audience that clearly had sympathy for the characters – and a similarly understood appreciation of tea.

Smiling throughout, I laughed, chuckled and was generally quite tickled. The ending isn’t overtly telegraphed, and the delivery gives context for the rest of the misadventure, concluding the show well. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Silent Faces in the future, and do hope I get to watch them again sometime.

The venue itself, as mentioned above, is the Vaults – a location underneath the sprawling Waterloo station. From the festival site:

“The Vaults is London’s home for immersive and alternative arts. Our mission is to collaborate and conspire, embracing artists from all walks of life to come together and inspire others.”

I have been to this venue before for parties run by either A Curious Invitation or Bourne & Hollingsworth; I’m not sure which, but maybe both. It is a large space that is accessed via Leake Street, which can be fairly easily found and is, for much of it, a graffiti covered tunnel (a very well covered one too, as it is one of the spots in London where artists are encouraged to show off their work. Worth a visit sometime).

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One of the bars. Chesterfields and exposed piping go well together.

Inside the Vaults there are a series of smaller chambers which contain the shows and a couple of bars. There were about five or six other shows running concurrently while I was there. There is a lot of exposed brick, simple cladding and pipework, all adding to the independent and alternative feel of the venue; a slightly musty air and the occasional rumble of trains overhead enhance the feeling without spoiling it. Vault Festival spreads to a few other local venues too, but this particular show was in the main complex itself.

The crowd in attendance are as eclectic as you’d expect, and are rightly inclusive. It’s good to see a diverse group from all walks at this sort of event, as this is showcasing the performance and creative talents of those who are not (yet?) in the mainstream. The independent nature of the troupes and shows is refreshing and ensures that the unexpected will happen – that your story-loving mind will be given the workout it so keenly desires.

With two weeks left of the festival, and having seen and enjoyed A Clown Show About Rain by Silent Faces, I’m going to have to get back there pretty sharpish.

And the food at the bar was tasty, too.

Use the ‘Adventures and Exploration’ category on this site to see related posts.


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