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  • Henry Longstaff

In PurSUEt - The Vaults

Alcohol fuelled obsession at The Vaults

Photography: Kira Dhaliwa


She’s sat in her therapist’s office insisting that there is nothing wrong. She doesn’t have a problem with alcohol, simply using it to take the edge off in those stressful situations - though they do seem to come around more often than before. Her family have not invited her round for Christmas this year as a result and those messy escapades are starting to show. She knows the solution to all this, however. Sue Perkins. Sue will solve all her problems but first, she has to meet her, convince her and win her over so they can be happy together, right? Eleanor Higgins’s play is a rapid and chaotic dive into alcoholism and delusion that provides a witty but honest insight into a person in crisis.

A deep obsession is clear for the woman as she proudly displays her life-size cardboard cutout of Sue Perkins next to her Sue Perkins shrine, assuring us she wouldn’t know all this information about her life if she didn’t write all those books (also displayed) - she wants us to read them, doesn’t she? Placing herself in situations where she will likely encounter Sue, the white lies begin small, insignificant but before long she is claiming to be Sandi Toksvig’s cousin and the ruse steadily crumbles. Higgins’s script is charmingly honest and believable as the obsession takes hold like a virus. Audiences can quickly relate to the parasocial relationships we all experience with celebrities and TV personalities alike though hopefully not too much.

Higgins performs the words of her script comfortably and confidently, instantly likeable but often resorts to staggering around the stage as the alcoholism grips the woman. She delivers the humour well, resulting in ripples of laughter but as the piece progresses the play begins to feel a tad repetitive and one note as we experience another of the woman’s failed attempts to woo Sue Perkins. Her descent into deeper alcoholism is a little clumsy and left me wanting more from the story but the play remained enjoyable despite this.

Celebrity fixation is nothing new but in a world where we are exposed to so much media, it can be all to easy to feel a one-way connection to personalities, convinced that they hold the key to our happiness. Higgins’s play uses this obsession as a lens to effectively examine the deeper problems at play and though rough around the edges it is doubtlessly compelling and heartfelt.

Photography - Kira Dhaliwa

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