Tag Archives: Flavia Fraser-Cannon




VAULT Festival

THIRSTY at the VAULT Festival



“There is joy and hilarity in the horrors of the heteronormativity it explores”


Stephanie Martin’s play, ‘Thirsty’ is a heart-breaking and manic deep dive into the truth of going through a breakup in your late twenties as a queer woman.

We meet Sara, fresh out of a relationship, looking for a way to cope with the pain of being dumped by the woman she loves. She turns to the people around her for support, including her Bridget Jones-esque friendship group full of larger-than-life characters, who, despite having good intentions, don’t completely understand the intricacies of queer relationships or their fallout.

Louise Beresford as Sara immediately breaks the fourth wall and forms allyship with the audience, creating a Fleabag-style breakaway narrative that gives audiences an insight into the truth of Sara’s thoughts throughout the whole play. This, and other choices of form and dialogue, contribute to the beautiful and subtle nod to neurodivergence in the character, and create a sense of intimacy and trust between the players and the audience.

We meet a large array of side characters, multi-rolled by a talented cast made up of women and non-binary actors. A particular mention to Anna Spearpoint, who presents a showcase of comedic characters, one of which is the best friend of Sara. Her earnest and hilarious choices make for a memorable performance, and bring diversity through her accent and acting style. She is definitely one to watch.

This is a show made by queer people, for queer people. It also offers an indifferent truth to the reality of heartbreak which anyone can relate to, and displays how these experiences can be altered massively by the people around you. There is joy and hilarity in the horrors of the heteronormativity it explores, and it offers an insight into the queer world; its kinks, its language, and the marginalisation still present within it.

“Are you going to go back to dating men? Do I have to?”

It engages in a lively pace to keep the audiences invested and by the end, slightly exhausted by the moments and memories we explore – again, a realistic insight into the mind of the character taking us through the story. Scott Le Crass’ impeccable direction utilises tools such as flashback, dance and play with the space to create a contemporary and exciting performative world.

Stephanie Martin’s ability to create honest yet hilarious conversations drives this piece, and an audience finds itself settled into the tone of the piece within minutes. This is a show that knows exactly what it is. Jokes, puns, and punchlines are sprinkled throughout the entire script, catching an audience by surprise. Within a minute the show takes you from laughter to wiping a tear. It is a piece that is so real, those who can identify with it might find it slightly painful.

The joy that has come from Scott Le Crass’ play with the space, beams through the actors. It is one of the best intimate scenes I’ve seen played out on stage, and the actors didn’t even touch.

Thirsty is a queer heartbreak story, that teaches us about the lives of the characters we meet, and if you lean into it, will teach you something about yourself. It is also a reminder that even if something looks perfect from the outside, the reality can be far from it.

A perfect show for VAULT Festival, with a guaranteed life after this run.


Reviewed on 2nd February 2023

by Estelle Homerstone

Photography by Flavia Fraser-Cannon


Vault Festival 2023


More VAULT Festival reviews:


Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023
Butchered | ★★★★ | January 2023
Intruder | ★★★★ | January 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran

Omnibus Theatre

Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran

Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran

Omnibus Theatre

Reviewed – 28th February 2019



“doesn’t shy away from tough politics but tries to fit too much in”


Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran is part-theatre, part-cabaret show which hopes to balance heavy foreign affairs and human rights criticism against some, often more light-hearted, sexual politics. It makes the case that you cannot divorce art from politics, that the mere act of telling a story is in itself a political act.

It’s 2010 and narrator Orla, played by Siobhan O’Kelly, is struggling to come to terms with her recent six week, Government sponsored, trip to Tehran. Orla and best-friend and drag artist Mark, played by Nathan Kiley aka Topsie Redfern, are about to open their own drag night in Soho but far from being excited for their dream to finally come true, they’ve had an argument and need reconciliation. The story unfolds exploring Orla’s time in Iran, how it changed her, and how Mark coped behind in London without his munchkin.

Lipstick is unflinchingly critical of the Iranian state, referring to it’s indecency laws and the brutal retribution in kind or literal ‘eye for an eye’ law exemplified in the case of Ameneh Bahrami and Majid Movahedi. This is, however, in contrast to the people she meets in Tehran. The students in her classes, the receptionist at the hotel and, most touchingly, a carpet shop owner, are all complex characters portrayed with warmth and fondness.

Writer and director Sarah Chew draws clever parallels between Orla’s Northern Irish upbringing and the contemporary situation in Iran. One of Orla’s students notes that the British Embassy in Tehran is on Bobby Sands street, the only street with a British name in the city. There’s also a satisfying circularity when, early in the piece, Orla describes the paramilitary explosive of choice, Semtex, as smelling like marzipan. Later, she is comforted by a kindly offer of traditional Iranian rosewater sweets – made from marzipan.

Whilst all this is happening, Mark stays in touch from London on the phone and through music he’s preloaded onto an MP3 player for Orla’s trip. Mark’s character and journey don’t feel as deeply explored or neatly structured. This disconnect was then magnified by the use of pre-recorded voice, with Mark lip syncing often to his own voice. Whilst the tinny, distant sound of the pre-record was likely meant to evoke the 5,000 miles between Tehran and London, it instead limited the connection with his character. Although responsible for many of the biggest laughs and impressive vocal performances, it was a shame his arc wasn’t as critically explored as Orla’s, leaving him to fulfil the “Gay Best Friend” trope.

The stage featured a long catwalk with the audience sat either side, as if in the Soho club. Mark’s many costumes were effective in motion, although the props and tech experienced a few glitches which, although handled well, did not go unnoticed.

Lipstick doesn’t shy away from tough politics but tries to fit too much in, leaving the plot feeling lopsided, limping along behind. However, despite this, its ending is feel-good and will leave you smiling on your way out of the theatre.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Flavia Fraser-Cannon


Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran

Omnibus Theatre until 24th March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
My Dad the Magician | ★★★★ | March 2018
The North! The North! | ★★★ | March 2018
Gauhar Jaan – The Datia Incident | ★★★★ | April 2018
The Yellow Wallpaper | ★★★★ | June 2018
Blood Wedding | ★★★ | September 2018
Quietly | ★★★ | October 2018
To Have to Shoot Irishmen | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Selfish Giant | ★★★★ | December 2018
Hearing Things | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Orchestra | ★★★ | January 2019


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