“Groundbreaking” is the word that Eleanor Victoria Hill wished reviewers would use when talking about her one-person dark comedy Sad-Vents. It is a mantle that I truly believe her performance deserves.
It is a theatre experience entirely different to what I am used to. Rather than a reminder to the audience to turn their phones off at the beginning of the show, Hill instead actively encourages everyone to keep their phones on them – to take photos, DM her during the performance and even gives permission to livestream the whole thing.
After this, she doesn’t talk directly to the audience again – instead she narrates the story into her phone screen, which is projected onto the wall behind her. The effect of this is exactly what she hopes for – even while she is standing right in front of the audience, it is difficult to take one’s eyes off the projection of her, rather than watch her in person.
Hill describes Sad-Vents as being 90% autobiographical and through the means of dark humour and Willy Wonka references, Hill talks about her life – laying herself completely open to her audience. The mood of the show swings from being intensely morbid and upsetting to being side-splittingly funny.
The layout of the stage is clever – a double bed takes centre stage, random clutter across the floor, a phone stand with a light and two bins. Every prop on the stage is there for a reason – such as the jumpers and t-shirts to represent certain people in her life. The show being set this way gives the audience a clearer idea into how big of a part social media has played in Hill’s declining mental health – she puts even the most private and vulnerable parts of herself online for the entertainment of others.
Sad-Vents is one of this year’s unmissable shows. It turns the classical view of theatre on its head and will have you wanting to cry with laughter while also wanting to wrap Eleanor Victoria Hill into the tightest hug possible and protect her from the world. It is an utterly unique take on mental health, trauma, and social media.