Review: Thirsty, VAULT Festival

Louise Beresford delivers a killer fringe and a stunning delivery at the heart of the intelligent Thirsty at VAULT Festival

“All I can think about is her”

A starry West End opening can bring its thrills but for me, real theatrical joy comes in the intimacy of feeling that a story is being told for you. Even if the subject of a play isn’t something you particularly relate to (or even if it is…), the potency that can come from a performer connecting with you is like no other and at the heart of Thirsty, there’s one of those performances from Louise Beresford that felt like it pinned me to my seat and searched my soul as it renewed my appreciation for the power of live theatre.

She plays Sara, a woman in her late 30s reeling from the break-up of her first queer relationship. It also served as her joyous introduction into the world of BDSM and now that her eyes have been opened in this manner, she’s trying to do some serious reassessment of her life choices. Stephanie Martin’s play adroitly avoids any lurid capitalisation on lesbian kink to really hone in what it feels like to redefine one’s own identity and how that can impact on the already existing relationships in your life. 

As Beresford’s Sara wryly ducks societal expectation at every opportunity, a trio of actors multi-role geniously around her. From uptight friends to lascivious bosses, wearied parents to hilarious threesome participants, Anna Spearpoint, Greer Dale-Foulkes and Rosanna Suppa bring a wonderful sense of play to bear under Scott Le Crass’ direction. He’s encouraged an openness from his company which is highly appealing, full of a real empathy for how life’s big questions can hit us at any age. 

There’s real emotional intelligence with which sex is portrayed too, even as the production sometimes goes for laughs. Unenlightened straight sex as a game of pat-a-cake and a misguided threesome as a round of Twister are wittily done. But the bracing erotic pleasure that comes from Sara’s entry into the world of submission is gorgeously portrayed, full of the frisson that comes from realising that the boundaries are no longer where you thought they would be.   

An insightful look then, into how we never really stop evolving as people even as society might expect those in their 30s to be settling down. Martin’s writing also speaks cogently to the queer experience, particularly to those coming out in later life, as the ripples of such a decision prove to be something you never really get to stop dealing with. 

Running time: 60 minutes
Photo: Flavia Fraser Cannon
Thirsty is booking at VAULT Festival until 5th February

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