Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 13 February 2018

Review: Boys at Vault Festival 2018

7 - 11 February 2018

I’ve met these blokes before. Each of them a different type of man: Henry Gleaden responds to Boys at Vaults.

Henry Gleaden
Boys at Vault Festival 2018.

Boys at Vault Festival 2018.

Boys is the inaugural piece of work from ensemble company The PappyShow. It celebrates manhood.

In Boys:

I meet a few blokes.

All distinct.
I recognise them.
I’ve met these blokes before. Each of them a different type of man.
Sometimes I define men by the bits of them that make me afraid.
But I see them at their very best in Boys.
I see me at my very best, in them.
I spend time with men of colour. They share their histories, their futures.
I think about how I haven’t really seen a stage quite like this before, full of men like these, just being.I see a group of artists enjoying every second of their creation.
A troupe of remarkable physical performers, whose work captivates because it’s built on trust and touch.
A group of friends, whose love captivates because it’s built on trust and touch.I’m sure I feel the heartbeat of these men.
One hard beat, then one soft. Over and over.
A moment of violence, then tenderness.
A handshake, then an embrace.
A frenzied rush to be the winner, a careful step towards understanding.
We’re going to start with a fight.
Let’s just play.
Discoveries are made in front of me. These boys are boisterous, pushing against the limits of the games they have devised.
Just when it seems like they have lost control, they find the rhythm again, synchronise.
Music keeps them focused.
The soundtrack is banging. Sometimes literally: Body percussion is delivered with military discipline. The noise is bracing, the raw power of this unit of men is overwhelming. I’m gasping in sync with them.
Then the soldiers are gone. There’s one man, one fragile acapella voice singing a song about friendship.
I used to say ‘I’ and ‘me’,
Now it’s ‘us’, now it’s ‘we’.
The hard beat is always followed by the soft beat.

The piece rewinds, fragments of moments repeat.
I am amazed at how much we have been through together. And I appreciate the refresher; without the order imposed by narrative, some of the moments on this journey could be forgotten. You always remember how a dream felt though.

After Boys:

I think about my contradictory behaviours.

I press two fingers to my wrist. It’s difficult to tell the difference between a hard beat and a soft beat.

Boys transcends boys.

Boys in on until 11 February 2018 at Vault Festival. Click here for more details.


Henry Gleaden is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Boys at Vault Festival 2018 Show Info

Written by The PappyShow



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