Chloe Marschner

Written by student Victor Rees, Let’s Start a Fire is a pitch-black tale of celebrity and cruelty, which questions what it takes to be famous in the 21st century – and how much you can truly love those you hurt.

The plot revolves around a shocking crime, the burning of a fox. Recorded and leaked online, the video creates public outrage and a brutal media storm. When the initial flames die down, Sam and her girlfriend Emma try to renegotiate control over their own lives, inevitably leading to a twisted game of blackmail and backstabbing. Soon, the women must confront the revelation that they had more to do with the crime than intended. Written by Victor Rees, the play is partially inspired by the shocking 2017 event when a Pembroke student burnt money in front of a homeless man in Cambridge. Relevant and capturing, the show explores the complexities of abuse within a same sex relationship and is humorous and witty in the process.

For the cast involved, it was very important that the theme of abuse was taken seriously and given the emphasis it deserves in character development. Orli Vogt-Vincent (Emma) told me that ‘it ventures so far away from the norm and what you might expect’, which is why the viewing is so bold and captivating.  The whole cast made sure not to stick to the stereotypes of masculine relationship abuse, instead looking through the lens of emotional manipulation after careful research and discussions with people affected. For Tyra Amofah-Akardom (Sam), they key take-home is that ‘making someone feel like their existence is in the hands of another is never okay’ regardless of the form the abuse takes. Director Zara Ramtohul-Akbur wanted to ensure that the cast also bought their own experiences of relationships to the table, allowing some improvisation and small alterations, to create characters which come across as real throughout all of their scenes.

The play has just 3 characters, which has enabled careful time for character building for a really insightful viewing. Vogt-Vincent plays Emma, a girl with an immense amount of light and shade. She is simultaneously head strong and passive, fiery and submissive, with a beautiful flare of personality which changes between scenes. The character of Terry (Christoph Marshall) also stands to be an interesting viewing, as he is a humorous character who debunks and fails to conform to stereotypical perceptions of masculinity. Instead he is a ‘figure of masculinity who is quiet, tired and vulnerable, someone in need of help’. My personal favourite is Sam (Amofah-Akardom), who doesn’t like Hollywood movies because the endings are too happy, ‘the couple driving into the sunset never crash and the newlyweds never celebrate by gassing themselves in their kitchen’, a fascinating insight into her character.

Alongside the heavy themes of abuse which is so amazingly portrayed, Let’s Start a Fire is also a humorous viewing, thanks to the improvisation techniques employed during rehearsals which enable natural humour to come through, particularly through the character of Terry.


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Fundamentally, the play is not so much about events, but aftermath. It’s about not seeing patterns and cycles in front of you, the bonding process of humour and psychological impulses we don’t want to talk about. Assistant Director Sophie Hill had an air of excitement during our interview, as the play is never seen before, completely ‘new ground’ which stands to shock, surprise and entertain. Crucially, in the same way that watching fire leaves an imprint on vision afterwards, Director Zara hopes the play will have a similar effect, allowing the audience to go home with an imprint from the production. With beautiful motifs of old Hollywood and a passionate cast, Let’s Start a Fire is a show for all.

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