Review: The Cement Garden, VAULT Festival

Now that Jermyn Street has new seating, this venue, in a warren of tunnels under Waterloo station, must be the most uncomfortable in London. To be fair, this wasn’t aimed at me – I think I was about twice the average age of the audience. I went home when it finished at 9:45, leaving the vast majority to keep on partying in the bar, listening to the live music, etc. as part of the Vault Festival. The difficulty of how to play Tom was got round by using a simple puppet operated by David Annen who was simultaneously the adult Tom to whom Jack (George Mackay) was narrating the story. That may sound complicated but it worked perfectly. Both actors were excellent, as was Ruby Bentall as Julie. I won’t say anything to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read it, but the adaptation by David Aula and Jimmy OsborneĀ captured Ian McEwan’s novel perfectly. Above all, it showed clearly the internal logic by which the children end up behaving in ways that might otherwise seem inexplicable. At 100 minutes with no interval, it kept the audience engaged and the only reminder of its length was the barely cushioned, hard wooden benches – had I been a bit younger I’d have really loved it.

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