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Locked In
Published on Saturday, 18 August 2012
3

3 stars

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (venue website)
Theatre
13-18, 20-25 Aug, 12:50pm-1:40pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 16+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

Locked In is a one man show, based on the journals of artist Keith Vaughan. The play’s description promises us a spectrum of emotions – vivid, funny, angry, erotic, despairing – all of which, I am glad to say, are indeed on display. The script is without doubt laden with some of the most beautifully written prose I have seen all Fringe; most of the words I’m guessing were Vaughan’s own, but Homo Promos do a solid job translating it to the stage.

One-man theatre productions are a staple of the Fringe, and Locked In is one of the more effective ones. Despite a few noticeable slip-ups in the delivery, Scott Presland turns in an excellent portrayal of Vaughan’s tortured persona, complete with a wonderful sense of dry sarcasm and wit. It’s a subtle and understated performance, perhaps less dynamic than I was expecting. But it was the most effective way to showcase a Vaughan that’s reflecting on his life, no longer actively taking part in it.

Technically, the production suffers from only one mishap – the quality of sound. The music, often dramatic, occasionally overtakes Presland’s quiet and poignant speech; and although it can’t really be helped by the production company, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall could do well to remember to keep those ‘quiet please’ signs enforced, or at least get more a more successful soundproofing system. On the plus side, though, the use of a screen to showcase relevant artwork by Vaughan is a wonderful device. If you’re a fan of this artist’s paintings then it’s lovely to appreciate the stories that inspired them.

Although the script is filled with beautiful phrases and memorable quotes, I found that the actual structure of the piece lacked the appropriate pace. The section on Vaughan’s “strange and silent” relationship with Raoul (a Spanish-sandle maker) was wonderfully long and verbose. On the other hand, Vaughan’s decent into a deep suicidal depression is a short, choppy end to what could have been a deeper thought-out process. As morose as it sounds, I wanted more of that angst. The play as it was failed to break my heart as its programme blurb promised, although it did make me feel sympathetic.

Overall, it’s a moving piece and an interesting one too. I went into it not knowing much about Vaughan or his work, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. Despite its faults, Locked In is a solid representation of Vaughan’s life, and it was worth it just to hear such brilliantly crafted words translated for the stage.

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