Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? When you go to see a play about the famed writer you really don’t expect to be laughing at bad sexting and awkward nudes!
V&V, an entertaining new two-hander currently playing at The Vaults in London, juxtaposes the literary love affair of Woolf and socialite Vita Sackville-West with the modern romance of two young women, Mia and Lottie. Over the course of an hour, two love stories are told via their correspondence (one via letters, the other via instant message). One thing is constant – the fact that communication is difficult no matter the era.
We’ve all stared at a message and struggled to understand the subtext, and that kind of misreading and insecurity makes for a lot of comedy and heartache over the course of the play’s 60 minutes. Written and directed by Misha Pinnington, V&V makes you question your meta-identities and how your own insecurities can turn a simple message into an emotional minefield.
How many kisses should go at the end of a message? Is one just ‘polite’? Is three a bit too eager? How does Woolf’s “I regret that you have been in bed, though not with me” compare to “Got nudes?”
The story is brought to life by two engaging actresses, EM Williams and Heather Wilkins, who slip between characters as the two love-stories unfold. Going from formal and imperious, to confused and bubbly, they keep the play light on its feet. The horrors of sexting are laid bare to great personal and hilarious effect.
Pinnington uses the small space of the Vaults Studio well with some excellent lighting work by Rachel Sampley and sound design by Nicola Chang. The show is at its strongest with the romance and comedy, as events take a more serious turn the play does drag slightly and doesn’t quite pack the dramatic punch it aims for. A digression into the five forms of sexting felt out of place in such a short play. But these are small criticisms for such a fun and surprising piece.
Pinnington has crafted a funny and moving story about the power and danger of communication, and how the insecurity of love has not changed over the years. It’s a solid piece of new work from queer femme theatre company Sprezzatura Productions, I look forward to seeing more.
By Chad Armstrong
V&V plays at The Vaults as part of Vaults Festival till March 8. Tickets available via the Vaults website.