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There’s a gruesome secret in the cellar in Jimmy Osborne and director David Aula’s adaptation of Ian McEwan's 1978 novel (his first) - a macabre account of sibling curiosity crossing boundaries and a dead mother immured in a cement-filled trunk.

Narrated by 15 year old Jack (BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee George Mackay) whose main preoccupation seems to be jerking off in the privacy of the bathroom, it’s an unsettling story of the lengths to which he and his sexually provocative older sister Julie (Ruby Bentall) go to keep the authorities away and the family (younger sibling Sue and baby of the family Tom) together after the sudden death of their father is followed by their mother’s slower demise.

The subterranean atmosphere of the old vaults beneath Waterloo station is well suited to a drama in which the contents of the basement are a constant presence, though Aula’s very physical production doesn’t make it easy for the audience - the agile cast clamber high overhead on the split-level set and the seating is punishingly uncomfortable (my shorter companion, her feet dangling, really struggled to keep seated during the interval-free 100 minutes)

That said, FallOut Theatre’s contribution to the vault festival proves decidedly unsettling as the cement cracks, the relationship between the two older siblings evolves and young Tom (here a puppet manipulated by older actor David Annen) is dressed as a girl.

When: Until March 8, 2014

Where: Vault Festival at Leake Street, Station Approach Rd, SE1 8SW

Tickets cost £21.50  (including a £1.50 Festival charge). Fore more information, click here.


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Theatre: The Cement Garden
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