REVIEW: This is the Land, VAULT Festival

This is a show that is filled with ideas – but little clarity in what it is trying to say.

Created by Redroom Theatre, This is the Land is filled with plenty of thoughtful ideas and a dream-like quality which makes for an interesting premise but somehow in the course of the show never really makes sense of them. It is a real shame because while there are moments in which you feel as though you get a grasp on what is going on, it abruptly takes a different direction that leaves you in the dark again.

The show takes us through the seasons and uses them as a way to try and give voice to ecological crisis, social inequality, and political repression of dissenting voices through the use of movement, microphones with a primal echo or looped speeches and disconnected stories. At certain times, I thought that the show was actually explores how with each season and as it changes, so our outlook on life changes – the mood switching effortlessly through effective and haunting lighting. However, there are too many different elements thrown in to make it absolutely clear that this is the case. You are left feeling disorientated and not sure that the subjects it want to explore really come through.

Co-created by Leeza Jessie, Xavier De Santos, Samuel De La Torre, Alice Barton, Sofia Velez with music by John Barton, it feels as though too many different ideas are thrown in with the result that each idea conflicts with each other. There is no doubting this is an unusual show and I’m not entirely sure who this show is aimed at audience wise and although you are taken on a journey of sorts you are never quite sure where you are going to end up.

It is a shame that the show is so difficult to describe as there was aspects in there that did work. I loved the Celtic music, which added an ethereal quality to proceedings and enhancing the mysterious nature of the show, while the performances by the cast are really precise in terms of timing – but without a proper context of what the show is about it is really hard to appreciate this show.

I feel as though there is potential in This is The Land – but the ideas need a bit more refining along with a bit more clarity to make it easier for audiences to keep up with and appreciate. There is no denying there is ambition here but needs a bit more work doing to it to make it feel more coherent.

By Emma Clarendon

This is the Land continues to play as part of the VAULT Festival until the 19th February.

Rating: ⭐⭐

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