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Review: THAT'S ACE, VAULT Festival

Review: THAT'S ACE, VAULT Festival

A tender coming-of-age story that aims the spotlight at asexuality and platonic affection.

Review: THAT'S ACE, VAULT Festival Ace is anxiously waiting for Sasha at the club. She's never been before and wasn't given an exact time, so she makes sure she's there before they open to be on the safe side. After an awkward conversation with the bouncer and an equally interesting chat with the bartender, three hours pass before her crush arrives. Ace - her chosen name, borrowed from the companion of the seventh Doctor Who, her "gaywakening" - voices her internal monologue to the crowd.

After a slow introductive voiceover that details the unskilled answer given by her sex education teacher when confronted with Ace's questions about non-heterosexual intercourse, Jonny Brace's play kicks in properly. It's an endearing text that sparkles with wit, examining platonic love and asexuality with youthful depth. Tiffany Marina Pearmund is the protagonist. Sex is "like cognitive thought to a worm", she says - her character doesn't get nor understand sexual impulse.

We bear witness to the modus operandi of an excessively logical, literal brain. Ace has analysed and dissected her affection for Sasha from every angle, but still hasn't reached clarity. Pearmund delivers a pure, honest performance that makes us want to scoop Ace up and give her a hug (although we fear she wouldn't appreciate that). Directed by Brace, the show features an expressive, accomplished lighting design and sound that move the action in and out of rooms seamlessly.

His investigation of Ace's state of mind is detailed and unpatronising, precise in its descriptions but sparing in their explanations. The character's attitude comes off as an "unflinching, no-nonsense approach", but Ace can't wrap her head around the isolation she feels due to her sexuality and bearing. A Catholic background built on guilt and shame doesn't help her journey, which is ultimately left unwritten.

In 45 minutes, Brace doesn't have provide solutions to Ace's uncertainties, but his queries aim the spotlight at a subject that's largely unexplored on stage. He gives a profound insight into the doubts and tribulations of growing up with platonic feelings and sexual confusion in a heartwarming, touching coming-of-age story.

That's Ace runs at VAULT Festival until 17 March.

VAULT Festival has been left without a venue for next year. You can contribute to the #SaveVAULT campaign here.

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From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

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