Conquest, Vault Festival

Katie Caden’s tale of two women is relatable. Colette Easton’s Jo is your hardcore feminist, who uses gender-neutral pronouns and argues with anyone and everyone about female autonomy whereas Alice (Lucy Walker-Evans) is someone who hasn’t considered her rights before; she likes men, is close to her dad and brothers but after meeting Jo, in the queue at Boots, her attitude changes.

I really wanted to like this; the story worked well, the performances were strong but it just lacked the energy that would have made me enjoy it. There are numerous issues; Eaton and Walker-Evans are doing too much in this two-hander because it isn’t a two-hander. There are at least 4/5 other characters, which with a full cast could have provided some much-needed depth. At times it feels that the two leads are far more comfortable with these supporting characters. There are jokes fall completely flat because the actresses seem to be conscious of the next character or scene. Jess Daniels direction also seems overwhelmed by how much is going on-is it necessary to have the chairs “symbolise” the external characters when the actresses are still performing these characters when the scene calls for it.  There is also too much going on, too many scenes, and too much unnecessary background. The recreation of how they met actually doesn’t add anything to the story, for example, and probably could be scaled back to focus on the key part of the production.

As a work in progress, this has so much potential, the mother/daughter scenes between Jo and Angela are really strong but it needs room to breath and right now the piece feels like race against the clock rather than a thoughtful and considered piece on feminism, consent and what it means to be a woman.

Conquest is on at the Vault Festival until 25 February


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