Loss, and the act of losing something, or someone, is a fairly common theme in theatre, but rarely is it played out so beautifully as it is in OK, Bye, currently at VAULT Festival. Written and directed by Vicki Baron, with movement from Kate Goodfellow, we see how the various emotions, positive and negative, attached to loss play out alongside busy and hectic lives.
There are two very distinct parts to OK, Bye. On one hand there is a traditional narrative of three siblings trying to rebuild their relationship following a bereavement, where childhood instincts creep in to the important business of being an adult. On the other hand, there are a collection of true stories which are told to us through recordings, and they all have a theme of loss, whether it’s saying goodbye to excess weight or a family home, real voices share the experience.
Rather than allow the recordings to simply play, the cast interact with them, often embodying the distant voice, or adding their own wonderful physical movement to them. In one particular scene, the story of a young Australian man who has lost his faith, is played out using frames of light, and the result is visually stunning.
You could argue there’s a third strand in OK, Bye, which is the music played live by Andrew Armfield. In the main, it provides a tender and gentle score to the touching stories, while in more unexpected moments there’s a blast of Barenaked Ladies ‘One Week,’ and I’m sure I heard a couple of bars of Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ too.
Music and movement combine to create a dreamlike performance, and I found myself completely mesmerised, as Ikea cutlery became instruments and the movement transitioned between modern and classical. Sam Cornforth and Oscar Scott-White join Goodfellow to form the cast, and they all work incredibly well together, a vibrant opening sets the scene for the poignant, and surprisingly funny performance that is to follow.
Certainly one of the more compelling hours that I’ve spent in a theatre, OK, Bye, finds that sweet spot by combining different mediums with due care and attention. Let’s hope this short VAULT Festival run isn’t the end, or we will be mourning the loss of this beautiful production for some time.