Vault Festival: how we love

Where

Cage at the Vaults, Leake Street Tunnels, Waterloo.

When

18-23 Feb, 7.30pm. Running time 1 hr.

Who

Written by Annette Brook, directed by Robbie Taylor Hunt, produced by Annette Brook and Airlock. Performed by Ewa Dina, Enoch Lwanga and Dr Paul T Davies.

Enoch Lwanga and Ewa Dina in how we love
Enoch Lwanga and Ewa Dina in how we love

What

Gay investigative journalist Babatunde has come to visit his lesbian best friend, Regina, in Lewisham. With mounting pressures back home in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal, and escalating danger for their partners, they hatch a plan to get married.

How

Annette Brook’s new play how we love has moments of extreme power and poignancy as Regi and Babs plan their wedding in London, against the backdrop of fear for their respective same-sex partners back “home” in Nigeria. The notion of home and strange lands is briefly explored.

Regi has a weaker link to the country of her birth, staying detached from politics and displaying a sense of fun. Babs feels the need to investigate and report on the injustices in “the richest country in Africa”, which hunts and harms homosexuals.

Into their planning comes the old man from next door, Rupert, whose family were caught up in the genocide of the Second World War (one interesting scene has Rupert and Babs trading numbers and atrocities, “it is not a competition you want to win”).

Rupert turns out to be gay, too, with a story of his own lost love and the concentration camps (“he turned around and smiled at me, then went back in his hut”), and a touching wedding gift of a pink triangle cushion from a doll’s house, found in a charity shop.

Paul T Davies and Ewa Dina in how we love
Paul T Davies and Ewa Dina in how we love

In just an hour, there’s a lot to take in, with amusing scenes and frantic action rubbing shoulders with quieter moments – a beautifully directed scene where Rupert and Babs have a brief moment of closeness and understanding is well done – and a lot of dialogue which is sometimes lost in the space.

Catja Hamilton’s tech is good from a lighting perspective but the set is too near to the audience at times, necessitating a lot of rubbing of performer against knees. This is often a distraction from what is actually going on.

Moments I liked – the brushing of hands, both Regi and Babs showing “hope” as the reason why they are getting married, the reference to wonky eyeliner, the use of mobile phones, the moments of dancing, Babs’s borrowed onesie.

Ewe Dina’s Regi is unmissable and scene-stealing, but her character feels as if it has more to say and do. Enoch Lwanga’s Babs is a bit on the light side for his character arc, but there’s room for development, and Paul T Davies finds the fun and pathos in the elderly gay Jew still scarred by a teenage memory but determined to live.

Judgement – Wow, Meow, or Furred Brow?

It’s a Meow for how we love, which has some excellent moments but which needs a slight refocus to truly explore its complex characters and provide a firm emotional connection.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see how we love.

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