“Well, that was a bit close to home,” a friend says as we leave one of several intimate VAULT Festival theatre venues.
“That’s the point,” is the obvious reply.
Heart-warming (but not cheesy), highly relatable (but not trite), I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS deals with weighty themes to address the foibles of the human condition. If it makes you feel awkward, it’s done its job.
In an SW Londoner interview, creators Alice Keedwell and Harry hoped their show would entertain first and foremost, but also shed light on an often misunderstood issue and help people share experiences.
Alice said: “We don’t want it to be an advice show of ‘how to overcome things’; it’s more a sharing of an experience.”
She added: “For all of us, it’s been an interesting experience in introspection and understanding you just don’t know what’s going on in someone’s mind.”
The show’s autobiographical plot centres on Alice’s experience of moving to the sleepy Hertfordshire village of Berkhamsted, and the social situations she encounters there.
Alice (Keedwell), eager to make a good impression, can’t wait to throw herself into village life, embrace new people and make new friends.
She is going to be the woman she’s always wanted to be, cool and calm and free. BUT her pesky and undesirable companion Anxiety (Blake) refuses to leave her alone and threatens to ruin everything.
A two-person show, with no props and minimal staging, the understated routine works well and the musical pair’s clear affinity imbues the act with genuine charm.
Harry’s sardonic and biting remarks contrasted with Alice’s frenetic, yet endearing, musings to create a seamless interaction between the two.
Helped by its short run time, catchy tunes and swanky LED floor, the performance kept pace and maintained energy levels throughout.
Alice’s musical interlude with a saxophone was expertly timed and drew hearty laughter from an obliging crowd.
Though, the instrument’s position on the stage during the performance meant the element of surprise was lost.
In the show, keyboard-playing Harry repeats the motif, ‘I have a bad feeling about this’ to personify the inner turmoil in Alice’s mind.
While she, tentatively enthusiastic about her new life, struggles to convince herself she can mingle with and host her newfound acquaintances.
The foreseeable turning point is necessary and proves key in resolving the central story.
The performance is, after all, less a serious piece of issue theatre more an open dialogue with the audience to share a common experience.
I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS, produced by Hannah Elsy Productions, does what it sets out to. It entertains. But, it also probes questions about our own insecurities, self-doubt and social angst.
The truth is, everyone can find something of themselves in this show. And that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
Speaking to SW Londoner after the show, VAULT festival director Mat Burt said: “What is exciting about this year is we have more artists than ever before involved in the process.
“And, what has always made VAULT festival work is artists that support other artists, because it’s a place where, in order to succeed, you need to be collaborative and cooperative.
“We have three different companies in one space every night—they’ve got to help each other sell tickets and be a part of a festival family.
“And when people talk each other up, and they help each other, it really works.
“It’s a situation where artists get to lead the conversation.”
He added: “It’s a fun place to be.”
On VAULT, Alice said: “It’s such a brilliant festival, we always love being there.”
Harry added: “And the bar is great.”