A tale of uninvited four-legged houseguests, there is something about Vermin that is certainly infectious. The dark and energetic thriller is produced by Triptych Theatre – a trio formed of Benny Ainsworth, Sally Paffett and Michael Parker. Written by Ainsworth and directed by Parker, The Balcony at Gilded Balloon Teviot hosts the fantastic psychological ride until 29th August.
Rachel and Billy are seven months into their relationship and have already tied the knot. The romantic undertones to their petty disagreements are cute, but an infestation of rodents triggers a new kind of conflict. Between Rachel’s maternal affection and Billy’s mental health struggles, the couple cannot reach a compromise so they turn to the next best solution: revenge.
The show is delivered with an intimacy, humour and addressing of the audience that blends theatre with stand-up comedy. The plot unfolds in an insidious manner which should not be as hilarious as it is.
The trigger warnings for this show indicate the gritty subject matter that Vermin deals with, including animal cruelty, miscarriages, mental health, and suicide. The show’s handling of such issues produces hair-raising and heart-breaking moments.
There is a connection between mental health and the appetite for depraved acts which could have been further developed to avoid sending out the wrong message. However, a lot of the show maintains a rather tongue-in-cheek humour.
Presenting violence as both human and inhuman, Vermin explores how we process the traumas we experience and the traumas we inflict. The ending is strangely beautiful in a cult movie kind of way, and the whole production is oddly refreshing.
The show is executed flawlessly, and Sally Paffet and Benny Ainsworth deliver exceptional performances as Rachel and Billy. Regardless of who is speaking, both characters are constantly present. Their dialogue flows naturally, and Michael Parker’s direction deserves sincere praise.
Vermin not only demonstrates a great show but the fantastic talents of those who created it. Triptych Theatre are also performing An Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe at this year’s Fringe, and the company is definitely one to watch.