Vermin

In Rachel and Billy’s life, rats scratch at drywall and run across kitchen countertops. Vermin is an unfiltered account of their imploding relationship and the rodent shaped wedge being driven between them. In this dark drama, two characters driven by obsession divulge some chilling confessions.

a gritty and engrossing show

The playscript is written with such purpose it is evident that every word has been consciously chosen. Triptych Theatre does not mince its words, not one is wasteful padding to soften the drama. Benny Ainsworth’s writing seamlessly transitions from scene to scene despite the flips between retrospective narration and flashbacks of the real-time events. Obvious care has been taken in the structuring of the scenes and the flow of the story felt like a natural progression; strongly led by the actors. Additionally, the interruptions of the graver parts of the story with the more humorous moments worked really well to momentarily cut the tension and left the audience with questions that would later be answered.

The noticeable thought given by Michael Parker, Benny Ainsworth and Sally Paffett into the production elements of Vermin is another reason it is such a strong show. The choice to stage it in an intimate room within The Walrus meant that the audience’s possible desire to avoid the uncomfortable narrative is removed; there is nowhere to look but the actors in front of you. Additionally, the absence of music or sound effects only increases the volume of the sobering silences. We were forced to confront Billy’s graphic violent descriptions head on, and squirm at the pleasure he gains from them – which evidently had the desired effect of audience discomfort, as I noticed a spectator with a hand over their mouth.

Lastly, I need to credit the actors for their incredible performances. Paffett undoubtably understood her character Rachel inside and out and she gave an extremely nuanced performance. As the show progressed, it was great watching the gradual change in her facial reactions from adoration to disgust whilst Billy recounted his side of the events. Her monologue about the tragic loss she faced was heart-breaking, and I can’t imagine what it takes to shake the character off and decompress after the show. She truly embodied Rachel and I believed every single word. Ainsworth as Billy was a terrific counterpart to Paffett. I loved how he looked to specific audience members when telling his story, attempting to pull them onside and initially succeeding with his cheeky-chappy demeanour. He gave an excellent performance of the extremely dark source material, complete with an unsettling glimmer in his eye that cast a deep unease over me.

You know something is an exceptional piece of drama when you come away and can’t stop thinking about it. Triptych Theatre have created a gritty and engrossing show which had me hooked from the moment Billy and Rachel stepped onto stage. If you enjoy dark comedy, Vermin is an absolute must-see this Fringe.

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Reviews by Amy Betteridge

Laughing Horse @ Caroline of Brunswick / Laughing Horse @ The Walrus (Raised Room)

Vermin

★★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

“You could hear them under the floor... making something of a home for themselves. But this was our home. Not theirs.” Rachel and Billy didn’t meet in the most usual of circumstances. But seven months later, they’re in love, married and moving into the potential house of their dreams. What could be better? Following an unsettling discovery of a rat infestation, Rachel and Billy find their lives and relationship spiraling out of control, forcing them to go to war with their pesky intruders... and each other. A darkly comic emotional rollercoaster that is full of laughs, shocks, secrets and vengeance.

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