Monday, April 6, 2020
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    Sugar Coat, VAULT Festival – Review – Everything Theatre

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    Gig theatre is tricky. It’s an adolescent medium on the theatre scene and can often be difficult to learn the ebbs and flows between story and music. At the top of Sugarcoat, lead vocalist, Dani Heron, tells the audience that we are invited to come up and dance whenever we’d like. However, the set-up of The Forge venue doesn’t really facilitate that in the same way an elevated concert stage with a pit audience would. It’s an awkward feeling, wanting to move but feeling bound by the social rules of theatre shows, so we bop along in our seats,…

    Rating



    Excellent

    Inspired by real events, Sugarcoat boasts an experience of “love, loss, and lubrication” backed up by a riot grrl band within a punk gig aesthetic.

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    Gig theatre is tricky. It’s an adolescent medium on the
    theatre scene and can often be difficult to learn the ebbs and flows between
    story and music. At the top of Sugarcoat, lead vocalist, Dani Heron,
    tells the audience that we are invited to come up and dance whenever we’d like.
    However, the set-up of The Forge venue doesn’t really facilitate that in the
    same way an elevated concert stage with a pit audience would. It’s an awkward
    feeling, wanting to move but feeling bound by the social rules of theatre
    shows, so we bop along in our seats, heads grooving where appropriate. On the
    topic of appropriate, it’s that same invitation to dance that makes me feel
    uncomfortable later on.

    Sugarcoat, written by Joel Samuels and Lilly Pollard,
    is a beautiful and messy account of a young woman’s sexual journey to young
    adulthood. While the first half of the show revels in this punky sexuality and
    has the audience rapt in teenage ecstasy and fun, the later darker themes stop
    the energy cold. If I were to get up and move after some of the darker
    revelations, I would have felt extremely insensitive. It takes a while after
    these topics to get the audience back into a live music mood. Some women in the
    audience actually leave following the mention of these subjects. 

    Despite this jarring mash up of medium and content, Sugarcoat
    finds balance in its amazingly talented performers (Rachel Barnes, Dani Heron,
    Grace Lai, Anya Pearson, and Sarah Workman). Heron is a powerhouse on some
    higher vocals and I’m particularly struck by the comic timing, physicality, and
    wonderfully infectious performance of drummer, Sarah Workman, who skilfully
    moves through many relatable characters. The music itself is stellar, I do urge
    anyone interested in gig shows to see this production for the amazing musical
    direction of Pollard and the casts pure joy of playing. However, the sound
    levels/mixing is disappointing, it’s hard to make out more than half of what
    Heron is singing through any of the songs; for a gig theatre piece where the
    music drives the story, this is sort of a crucial element. 

    Praise does need to be given to Sugarcoat for its
    bravery and incredibly sensitive and poignant portrayal of a polyamorous
    relationship. Often a subject that is portrayed with judgment and humour, Sugarcoat
    shines a light on the beauty and tenderness in multiple partner relationships,
    something I truly wasn’t expecting. However, due to the sheer emotional weight
    of the piece, I couldn’t help but feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach
    rather than coming away from the Vault’s venue pumped up, riotous, and
    empowered. If that’s the intention, I understand but for a piece billing itself
    as a rebellious and punky night of sexual exploration, I left feeling a bit
    confused. 

    Written by: Joel Samuels and Lilly Pollard
    Music composed by: Lilly Pollard
    Directed by: Celine Lowenthal
    Produced by: Emma Blackman
    Booking Link:https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/sugar-coat/
    Booking Until: 15 March 2020



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