Studio – The Vaults
Reviewed – 4th March 2020
“Although not flawless, it is fresh, intense and overall quite brilliant”
Through the intricately balanced language of finely crafted letters and no less exquisitely crafted Whatsapp messages, Sprezzatura Productions brings to the VAULT Festival a wonderful new queer play, “V&V”.
One storyline, told purely via the art of epistolography, revolves around the famous affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West – two exquisite women, confined by the social bonds of their times. The other one is a contemporary romance involving Mia and Lottie, two young ladies who strive to communicate via complicated language of messages, emoji and xxx’s.
Heather Wilkins (Virginia Woolf and Lottie) and EM Williams (Vita Sackville-West and Mia) have unparalleled chemistry. As Lottie and Mia, they are easily excitable, spontaneous and extremely relatable in their struggle to read between the lines and understand why the other one only responded with two x’s instead of three. As Virginia and Vita, they are much more solemn and the intent behind their discourse – more evanescent, as not directly explained to the audience. Bottom line is, both couples try to grasp feelings of the partner concealed behind the performativity of their respective writing forms. This balance (written and directed by Misha Pinnington) works out very well, especially given that the audience never actually gets to see them interacting in “real life”.
Two storylines intertwine, with only a slight change in music as an indication. With an extremely simple set – nothing but a chair and a screen (that is used to project Mia and Lottie’s messages), the play relies heavily on the interaction between two actresses. They both manage to make their characters quite different and, even though they spend lion’s share of their stage time on talking to the audience, rather than talking to one another, their relationships are genuinely believable and engaging. The ending of the contemporary storyline could have been perhaps tad more defined for the sake of pacing the story, but it is a minuscule drawback.
It is a brilliant show, very well acted and genuinely moving. Although not flawless, it is fresh, intense and overall quite brilliant.
Reviewed by Dominika Fleszar
Photography by Ali Wright