How we deal with traumas are dependent on how we process them, how we work to move on after the traumatic experience and the comfort we seek from the communities and systems around and put in place. Discussing what has been experienced in itself a difficult process, one that can bring feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment but one also that can bring with it a powerful emotional and psychological release. An exploration of trauma and how this greatly impacts the dynamics of a family, Abby Vicky-Russell presents Gush.
Hours before a feminist centred contemporary dance piece is due to commence at the Vaults Studio, Neil swoops in to save the day from a possible catastrophic leak. Drops from the ceiling, a ladder, a bucket, a specially made model of a vulva and pink decor all foundations of a symbolic mental realm. Vicky-Russell with an undeniable ease taking on drag alter ego Neil and presenting to us a loquacious, non politically correct, warm presence in love with his job as a plumber. Dad jokes, karaoke, the downing of pints of beer and many a comical anecdote encouraging guaranteed laughs, the immediate connectedness fostered by Vicky-Russell making for an entertaining evening.
With skill, Vicky-Russell has the ability to have us laugh with Neil one moment, and then the next suddenly turn the established light hearted dynamic on its head and reveal the deep realities of Neil’s trauma and pain, a harrowing anecdote referring to a traumatic incident repeated throughout, this framed as a voice over played by a technician that also interacts with Neil during the evening teching the feminist show yet to play. Here, Neil’s friendly persona is peeled back and we hear the female voice that breathes his character to life. We see how he, his daughter and wife battle with the ghosts of the past to this day. This is heartbreaking to listen to, yet Vicky-Russell creates a safe space for this topic to be explored further. Gush is a form of therapy, where both tears of laughter and pain emerge. This is a brave piece of work that I have to highly commend.
Written by Lucy Basaba.
Gush is currently showing until Sunday 12th March 2023 at the Studio/The Vaults as part of this year’s Vault Festival. To find out more about the production, visit here…
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