Double Infemnity, Vault Festival

It was a Wednesday, around six in the evening. At the Vaults under Waterloo Station I parked next to a girl, wondered where she stowed her pistol, and watched Catherine O’Shea, Jennifer Richards and Naomi Westerman’s one-woman show; a throwback and pass forward – a Marlowe with mams. Katrina Foster was the curves with the cuffs. She dished out her shtick like a boxer paid to drop in the third. In a world like this, all sex and patter, the plot was a loose bag of tropes. Better to follow the lady on the stage and soak up the attitude, enough to thicken pubic hair.

But you’ll have heard Double Infemnity is more than a pun, it’s a feminist take on a male genre. I grabbed a packet of smokes and asked myself, what did that mean? Maybe the kind of show where the men get objectified and their absence drives the story. Maybe the kind where the heroine talks tough on menstruation and regards the male intellect like a bowl of spoiling oranges. And maybe that’s a problem. In simple terms, when someone’s up, someone’s gotta be down. A private dick better stay flaccid. And if it can’t, there better be a gal wrapping one in sandpaper.

Effie-Lou, the cop with the cleft, was a pretty smart cookie and by the end of the play just about everyone and everything had taken a bite. She survived unmolested and unconvinced by the men in her life. It’s a power fantasy the women of 2018, wanting a stake in Chandler’s sweet style, can get behind. But style is all it is. Remember that and you’ll be swell.

I finish my cigarette. A man’s advice, would O’Shea, Richards and Westerman want it? Maybe not but it was, finally, all I had. Better manage the transitions between scenes – walking off and on stage slams on the brakes. Try lighting. Get someone to write a score; a little light jazz. And sweetheart, drop the clips of Brad Pitt. In a closed world it sticks out like a giraffe in a ’46 Ford. You want a hunk? Get a sketch artist. Hey, don’t look at me like that toots. I’m just a Joe doing a job, and I’m not even getting expenses.

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