Review: Sad Vents, White Bear Theatre ★★★★☆

By Jordan Hayter. 


Photo: Joe Twigg.

“Why do we need an audience for our recovery? Well, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” 

Sad Vents, written and performed by Eleanor Hill, is an intriguing immersive performance revolving around mental health and trauma. The show explores these themes through digital media, using Instagram, projections, and music to set the tone and mood throughout the show. 


The staging of the show is truly unique, with our leading lady telling most of the story to her phone, which is broadcasted the back of the stage. This is to represent her livestreaming her life and trauma through Instagram, performing her mental battle for an unresponsive crowd, seem familiar? The emphasis on the fact that her social media life feels like a performance truly makes you feel uncomfortable (in the best way) for watching her breakdown on the stage. To make this metaphor even stronger, audience members are encouraged to use their phones throughout the piece, whether that be a small video, pictures of even livestreaming the whole thing. It transforms the performance into a zoo-like experience. 


The show easily lends itself to the modern world. It is similar to shows such as Black Mirror, Euphoria but especially Bo Burnham’s dark comedy special called Inside. It is a culmination of all of these and could very easily be a Netflix special itself. The story is told extremely well, with each new scene being clearly stated, with different lighting, phone positioning and tone.  


Eleanor Hill is an astounding performer who captures your attention throughout the whole performance, which is quite an achievement with the show being almost 2 hours longs. She carries such a presence within herself, it will be no surprise if she brings out more amazing shows. Her comedic timing as well as her emotional performance never falter and she never tires out through the show, which is quite an energy drainer.  


The one thing that felt out of place was the constant appearance of “Squizzel”, a cartoon squirrel who shows up throughout the performance. It is based on a real aspect of her life, but it seemed odd to consistently include it in the show. There didn’t seem to be a point in having it involved and it didn’t really add anything to the overall performance. However, it may have had an underlying meaning that could be missed but it still didn’t fit the show.  


Sad Vents is definitely something to go watch, and you can go to the pub straight after as it’s performing at The White Bear. It is an interesting night out that will leave you with more than you had before, whether mental of physical.  


Sad Vents is at White Bear Theatre until 25 June