Let’s say this straight away – the next time that we hear someone slam their hands against a steering wheel, we are going to be taken right back to Wrecked! That particular moment really stuck with us and we doubt that we’ll be forgetting it anytime soon. But we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves here…
We saw Wrecked as part of VAULT festival, intrigued by the fact that the play took place in an actual car. Yeah, not a set dressed to look like a car but an actual car parked around the back of where the rest of the event was taking place. How could we not be curious?
We were invisible passengers in this vehicle as Sam slowly comes to with no recollection as to how she ended up in this (emotional and literal) wreck. Desperately searching the car for clues as to why she’s in this situation, her memory slowly returns, specifically recalling adventures with a friend. And as she regains clarity, the events leading up to her current predicament come into focus.
Wrecked was a one-actor, forty-five-minute show unfolding entirely within a beaten up automobile. The real serendipitous element of the evening that we attended the show was that there was a steady rain, contributing to the moody atmosphere wonderfully. As mentioned, we were invisible to Sam so it’s not a strictly immersive production but the close quarters of the location definitely make you feel as though you are a participant in the story. And the way in which this tale revealed itself was truly engaging. Sam would flit between trying to learn how she came to be in this wrecked car to reminiscing about happier, seemingly unrelated, times. How these divergent pieces intersected had us enthralled throughout, all the way through to its chilling conclusion.
A large contributing factor to the show’s success was that Sam was a very endearing character, especially when reliving conversations with a dear mate. The actress played both sides of their exchanges, effortlessly switching back and forth between Sam and her companion as though there were another performer present with her. These scenes painted Sam as a likable person whose main character fault was simply bad judgment, in more than one respect. We wanted things to work out for her and, as we approached the final scenes, we were completely invested in her story.
Something that didn’t quite work for us was a series of flashbacks that played intermittently throughout the running time. These weren’t performed by the actress but rather pre-recorded scenes that were played from a device within the car. The acting in these sections just didn’t stand up to the performance of Sam and felt a bit ‘radio drama’. Their tone was noticeably different from the rest of the show to the point that it was slightly distracting whenever they popped up. That, and they didn’t really have much of a place in the story, only really serving to highlight later developments.
Overall, Wrecked was a wonderfully crafted play. The setting of the production could have been gimmicky but it really worked. Bolstered by a strong performance and concise story, the show was a strong, powerful piece of theatre that had us enraptured throughout.
And then there’s the hands slamming on the steering wheel…
Wrecked (2018) - Fever Dream Theatre
+ The depiction of Sam
+ Unique set
+ The unfolding story
- Acting in the flashback scenes
Despite the fact that Wrecked initially drew us in with its choice of location, it had a solid story and engaging performance to back up that promise!
Address: The Vaults, Leake St, London SE1 7NN