Review: The Milkman Cometh at The Vaults
It may well be a distinguishing mark of British culture, but I can’t help it. I bloody hate queues.
Hate ‘em. Cannae stand ‘em. And on Thursday night I had three in a row. Waited 20 minutes for a tiny glass of Frizzante (don’t stand between me and my booze, goddamit), then waited 8 minutes to get into the loo to pre-emptively counteract the consequences of the Frizzante, then waited 15 minutes to get into the theatre, with a canoodling couple behind me repeatedly elbowing me in the back when their ardour got the better of them. Think that was a long sentence? Cry me a fucking river, you don’t know the meaning of “long”.
Now, you might be wondering why I am ranting at you - you did nothing to deserve this, after all. You just came here for a light-hearted theatre review! But it’s important you understand my pre-show state of mind to grasp the true brilliance of The Milkman Cometh. Because I left in a bloody good mood.
The warped brainchild of Deadplant Theatre, this is their second smash-hit show, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Hot on the heels of their sell-out run of The Service at the London Horror Festival, The Milkman Cometh exposes the dark udderbelly of the dairy industry and blows the lid off the pasteurised patriarchy.
Set in a post-milk society after all the world’s cows were burned in a giant fire to save us from global warming (go figure) a lone warrior woman finds herself at the sinister village of Cud. Now, I know what you’re thinking: all small towns are sinister. And I agree, I come from one myself – but this is a town full of horrifying secrets, in thrall to a shadowy figure known only as The Milkman.
It’s bloody brilliant. Funny, well-choreographed and more than a little disgusting. You can tell this is a slick, professional outfit even if the show seems like an unfettered romp. I laughed from beginning to end. The acting is deliberately hammy and it works wonderfully – these writer/performers are one talented bunch. Lydia Hourian has the perfect mix of swagger and sass as the kick-ass heroine, Alice Bounce a vapid brilliance as a townsgirl, James Keningale is pitch-perfectly pathetic as Barney and Maxwell Tyler’s Mayor made my skin itch. Bleugh. Owen Jenkins even manages to inject a moment of real pathos amid the farce as a father who has lost everything.
Upon arrival, I was handed earplugs, which made me immediately nervous. Happily, they were not needed, and I want to take a moment to give a special mention to “Fuck Slurry”, the metal band providing the score. Far from wishing to plug my ears, I think they were a star moment, adding a menacing flavour to the performance.
DeadPlant Theatre say their shows are based on an element of truth, spun out into a “fantastical and frightening fairytale”, and I don’t think there is a better way to describe this show. It is an amazingly clever concept, without being even a tiny bit subtle. I took my vegan sister. Lol. She heartily endorses the message. For myself, The Milkman Cometh isn’t going to make me give up milk…but it might make me give up men.