Who Lived In A Vinegar Bottle, Auckland Town Hall, 25 February 2020: Theatre Review

With a running time of only fifteen minutes, Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle is perfectly bite-sized sound and light experience that provides both a moment’s reprieve from the world around us as well as the opportunity to explore our connection between heart and home. It is part of Auckland’s Fringe Town.

They say that home is where the heart is, and for the most part it is true. The familiarity, the sense of comfort, and of course family all being threaded deep into the very foundations of one’s abode.

But can true contentment be found there?

Or does fulfilment really come from within?

Presented by Filament Eleven 11, Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle is the chance to explore this question for oneself. The visual and aural experience which is limited to twenty attendees at a time allowing for one to immerse themselves in what is presented before them.

Based on the English folk tale of The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle, a somewhat cautionary story of greed and desire for materialistic things, the installation created within the Concert Chamber of the Auckland Town Hall begins in darkness, audience members each given a pair of headphones through which a feast of noises – some recognisable, some not – are played.

From the rhythmic sounds of a broom moving across the floor, each stroke erasing the troubles and cares of the previous day, through to the hustle and bustle of an inner-city dwelling, the several different variations of lights, suspended above the floor, flicker and pulse. Patterns are formed and then dissolved, the ever-changing landscape of daily life, undulating under one’s gaze as the sound of a set of singular footsteps cuts through it all. Loneliness and isolation still a reality for many even when surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a wide-eyed town.

Periodically, simple instructions are given via a breathy almost otherworldly voice, each action needing to be carried out three times. Not only is this a wonderful nod to the original folk tale, it also enhances the experience itself, each command in turn allowing one to feel both mentally and physically connected to the piece.

Shifting, the tranquil sounds of quiet suburbia, a lone dog barking in the street move through the air, the glittering allure of nightlife, where youth and freedom cavort together to the bass driven beat of A Moment with You by Tropical Bleyage, ushering in subtle changes in the colour palette which in turn bring forth an overwhelming feeling of passion and excitement. Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle happily unfolds its wares before one and all, its invitation to build within its frame what you so desire in your mind’s eye, one that is hard to resist.

For is home truly where one lays down their head each night, or one where our hearts are at their fullest?

Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle is playing through 1 March at the Town Hall Concert Chamber. For more information and ticket sales, please go HERE.

~Sarah Kidd