Tumulus

VAULT Festival 2018

24 - 28 January 2018

Director: Matt Steinberg
Producer: Joanne Williams

Cast: Ian Hallard, Tom Rhys-Harries, Ciaran Owens

Designer: Alison Neighbour | Sound Designer: Nick Manning | Lighting Designer & Production Manager: Lucy Adams | Stage Manager: Megan Bly | Movement Director: Natasha Harrison | Assistant Director: Hugh Wyld | Assistant Stage Manager: Alannah Kelly | Illustrator & Graphic Designer: Will Adams | Filmmaker: Ciara O’Grady | Production Photographer: Michael Carlo | Artistic Mentor (Producer): Vicky Graham | Artistic Mentor (Playwright): Louise Stephens | Publicity: iN BLOOM

Partner Organisations: 56 Dean Street Wellbeing Programme, HIV Voices, Relate

Public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. With support from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. 

Published by Nick Hern Books in Plays from VAULT 3.

*Winner of an Origins Award for Outstanding New Work at VAULT 2018.*

**** This theatrical experience comes at you like an express train hurtling down the tracks.
— Boyz
**** Tumulus ... uses well-crafted and engaging storytelling, with powerful movement direction, sound, and lighting to show aspects of the deep, intimate, and devastating experiences surrounding the chemsex scene in London. Making sharp and poignant references to the previous epidemic affecting the gay community – HIV/AIDS – Tumulus offers insight not only into the individual characters’ life experiences, but perhaps into the collective experience of gay men going through yet another ‘spiritual crisis’. The tone and atmosphere of noir as a storytelling technique are a poignant tool to explore the moral ambiguity, fatalism, and pathos of the subject matter.
— LGBTQ Arts Review
**** Adams’s well-crafted script [is] filled with witty one-liners and bullet-speed dialogue.... As a whole the play is fun yet interesting and whilst it touches on the serious topic of chemsex culture and points out potential dangers, it doesn’t endeavour to pass judgement or preach to the audience. A definite must-see.
— Attitude
**** The ‘queer noir’ premise is fantastic – and the cast’s frantic but controlled performance captures the delirium, paranoia, and confusion of both the plot and its setting; the dialogue enhances this paranoia.
— Everything Theatre
This is a neat piece of writing. A murder mystery, set in North-West London’s chemsex scene, that simultaneously supplies a nagging study of addiction and a compelling cross-section of the capital’s active gay community.... It’s Midsomer Murders, just with more Class C drugs and blowjobs.
— The Stage
A cracking piece of theatre, a “chilling queer noir” that entertains as much as it elucidates....Recommended
— There Ought to be Clowns
In fact, Tumulus exists almost entirely at the busy intersections of queerness and genre. It is all-at-once a noir, thriller, comedy, drama, whodunnit, parody, pastiche; and begs the important question: is queer itself a genre? Maybe queerness is the very act of riffing off established genre? Maybe the notion of establishment is fundamentally at odds with the values of queerness? A staple of the capital’s fringe venues over the last ten years, is the ‘chemsex play’ now a distinct genre in its own right? The restlessness of Tumulus keeps turning these questions over and over in its imagination, and is rarely slight enough to risk a concrete answer.

Instead, Tumulus – the word meaning ‘ancient burial ground’; – persistently asks what gay men are still burying today. Too often their sexuality; forever their anxiety; and sometimes, their best friends.... Tumulus is important.
— The Play’s the Thing

Production photography by Michael Carlo.

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