Review by Daz Gale
With more than 500 shows pitching up at VAULT Festival, it is hard to work out just what to see among so many interesting looking shows. How do you stand out among the crowd? One ingenious way is call your show I F*cked You In My Spaceship. This was a show that aroused my interest when it first landed in my inbox so I knew of all the shows I was going to cover at VAULT this year, this was one I wanted to probe. The question is would this show send me into orbit or would it all feel a bit alien to me?
I F*cked You In My Spaceship tells the story of two separate couples as they each invite a stranger into their homes for very different reasons but with one common theme of attempting to bring something new into their life. For Leo (Jonas Moore) and Max Hyner (Dan) they want to spice up their love life by having a third person roleplay as an alien. For Anna (Rebecca Banatvala) and Emily (Lucy Spreckley) it’s to help them have a baby. Throughout a speedy hour, we flit back and forth to these two seemingly unrelated stories, never seeing the groups cross paths, aside from one scene which takes place simultaneously.
Written by Louis Emmitt-Stern, Spaceship is wickedly funny throughout, with naturalistic dialogue making sense of situations that may seem extreme to some and keep getting more and more complicated. Louis’ writing manages to keep the whole affair grounded, providing fleshed out characters and two differing stories that bubble away until they both reach their explosive climaxes. Perhaps I’d have liked the two stories to overlap slightly more aside from one strange and unexpected reveal (no spoilers) but that’s probably down to me watching too many episodes of This Is Us.
Directed by Joseph Winer, the cast walk on and off through the audience as they take it in turns to add to their stories. With no props aside from in the final scene, it is left to the audiences imaginations to bring some of the elements of the story to life, although the cast do a fantastic job in expressionate performances where they don’t need more than their faces and body language to convey the situations.
With writing as varied and sometimes out there as Spaceship is, it demands an exceptional cast to do it justice. Luckily, the 6 people assembled here have no problem living up to that. Jonas Moore is beautifully charming as Leo, conveying a character who begins the play dominating what is going on in his relationship, only to find his world changing quickly and in turn, his character. Jonas gives a versatile performance, demonstrating multiple layers to his character. As Leo’s lover Dan, Max Hyner is quite happy taking the backseat initially only to begin to come alive as the play progresses. Max displays his strength as an actor as he takes it slow, allowing the events of the play to ensure he is a very different person by the time the play ends.
Rebecca Banatvala is an undoubted standout as Anna in a performance that can be described as grand, full of light and shade throughout. Lucy Spreckley has slightly less to do as Anna’s girlfriend Emily. Feeling perhaps the least written of all the characters on the stage, Lucy makes the most of this with a charismatic portrayal of the character.
The cast are completed by the two third wheels. Lewis Shepherd is a lot of fun to watch as Robert who doesn’t have to say much to draw focus as he interacts with Anna and Emily. As the third in Leo and Dan’s relationship, and their alien, Felix Kai gives a masterclass performance. Playing Al, they give a nuanced portrayal as they pull the strings and changing Leo and Dan’s relationship ever. Every scene Felix was in were highlights of the evening in a truly scene-stealing performance.
The world premiere of I F*cked You In My Spaceship was an absolute triumph. Top quality and witty writing from Louis Emmitt-Stern in an initially far fetched premise that becomes less ridiculous as it progresses shows the depth to the play, while still retaining the fun nature of it, ensuring your next laugh is never far away. A wonderful and consistent cast add to the quality of the evening. While it could use the tiniest bit of tightening up, …Spaceship is a play that has the potential to travel the galaxy, spreading joy wherever it goes. It really is out of this world.
I F*cked You In My Spaceship plays at VAULT Festival until 10th February. Tickets from vaultfestival.com