Review: How We Begin, VAULT Festival

One of my favourite things I’ve seen this year so far, How We Begin is bisexual perfection at the VAULT Festival

“I like how you make me feel queer”

Washes of bisexual lighting (by Han Sayle) fill the Pit as two women take the stage. One begins to tell the story of their friendship – born in the rush of freshers week – but the other soon steps in to finish their sentence, correct a detail, reshape a path. That extraordinary intimacy is the hallmark of How We Begin, Diana and Helen’s story of how sometimes friendship can turn into something more and how it can be quite the emotional rollercoaster if it does.

Those are twists and turns, queer embraces and gut punches, I don’t want to divulge too much about, such is the pleasure of watching this two-hander unfold. Written by Elisabeth Lewrenz and directed by Elizabeth Benbow, the intertwining intimacy of this pairing is utterly engrossing, the interconnectedness of the dialogue a brilliant shortcut into the intensity of their relationship – if only they could figure out exactly what that relationship is.

Expectations are quite often confounded in this world. Choices to wear the sexiest of underwear can lead to sofabeds. Anticipated battles against familial heteronormativity are countered by quite possibly the loveliest coming out scene I’ve ever had to privilege to witness. And between them, Lewrenz and Benbow explore how this uncertainty can be particularly heightened for queer people and particularly bisexuals, the possibilities of love that little bit less clear cut but no less attainable for it.

Talia Pick (Helen) and Emma Lucia (Diana) both deliver profoundly moving performances that match the sincere intent of this writing. At different points in the embrace and exploration of their sexual identities, there’s nevertheless a symbiotic connection between them (which is all the more admirable considering this was their first performance). It’s an achingly emotive link that dig deep into the feels and makes this a love story I never wanted to end. Superb.

PS Team À bout de souffle, always.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Ross Kernahan
How We Begin is booking at the VAULT Festival until 19th February

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