Review: V&V, VAULT Festival

From Virginia and Vita, to Mia and Lottie, Misha Pinnington’s swooningly romantic V&V explores how technology has impacted communication in relationships at the VAULT Festival

“I’ve been doing something so odd, so queer”

The business of conducting a love affair has alwas been particularly charged, as senses are heightened in the erotic rush and emotions brought closer to the surface. But in the world of romance and relationships, communication is key. Misha Pinnington’s V&V explores how even with a century of technological advancement, telling someone how you feel can be an absolute minefield.

From the carefully composed letters between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf to the scrolling message screen of the dating app on which Mia and Lottie meet, Pinnington compares and contrasts these love stories, asking what if anything has really changed for matters of the heart – lesbian, straight  or otherwise. And in her smartly directed production for Sprezzatura, it proves a deeply affecting and romantic experience.

On the face of it, these worlds couldn’t be more different. As members of 1920s literary royalty, Vita and Virginia’s missives to each other are erudite and eloquent expressions of an increasingly meaningful emotional connection. On the other hand, Mia and Lottie are fretting about being left on read, over how many kisses are too many, about when is the opportune moment to ask for nudes.

Heather Wilkins (Virginia/Lottie) and EM Williams (Vita/Mia) both bring beautiful nuance to their pairs of characters, suggesting connections around levels of confidence, sexual or otherwise, but also delineating them well, Nicola Chang and Rachel Sampley providing further audio-visual cues with their respective sound and lighting design, switching us effortlessly between centuries.

But for all of the difference, unalterable truths remain. The power of language, to woo and wound, to express immense pleasure and unimaginable pain, to reveal our innermost vulnerabilities but also hide our true selves. One of the more subtly devastating moments is that realisation that the stronger facade often hides a greater emotional fragility. More time-travelling queer love stories please, and I’d particularly love to see an expanded version of this one.

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Photos: Ali Wright
V&V is booking at the VAULT Festival until 8th March

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