Theatre review: Decibels, Paradise in the Vault

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Stephanie is one of those kids who gets an idea and runs with it.

Decibels, Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29) ****

Suddenly determined on a career in musical theatre, she boldly goes into an audition without the least idea how to dance. She’s a natural storyteller who carries us along through meandering mishaps, from prepping for a date to how she comes to be locked in a flat with a blind biting rabbit; I’d quite happily have listened for another hour. Shades of Bridget Jones – she delivers the piece between swigs from a vodka bottle, and makes pledges to turn her weakness for box sets into something intellectual.

From the back rows of this tiny theatre, however, it begins to dawn that there is something particularly personal to this piece, a deeper resonance in the fluency and charm of the delivery. Decibels is about coming to terms with loss, finding shelter from present woes in the sweet sorrow of what’s past, creating memories from mementoes, an imaginary daughter-father bond.

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Stephanie’s path is defined by the death of her father when she was a child, and her steady consciousness of his missing place in her life, wishfully wondering if he’s watching over her. She knows that he loved fish fingers; she knows everything, and nothing about him. We chuckle, and tear up, along with her.

Young actress Elaine Fellows has created a kind of verbatim theatre for this show, staged in the simplest fashion, which came out of her graduating piece at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I happened to be sitting behind her mother in the audience and other relatives of her late father, who shed admiring tears.

• Until 26 August, 2:25pm