The show is carried by two strong and engaging performancesEm Sparkes with permission for Varsity

This year’s CUADC Edinburgh Fringe show, written and acted by Alice Roberts and Louis Hadfield, centres around the aftermath of an intense night out. Freddie and Poppy are exes who haven’t seen each other for six months. So why have they woken up next to each other partially dressed, apparently married and – most importantly – in Slough? As they try to piece together the events of the night before, they bicker, split hairs, and before long everything slowly emerges from the alcohol-induced haze of the night before.

It’s a clever and interesting premise that lends itself well to the intimate layout of the Playroom. Performing a show in one space for an hour with just two actors is a tough task, and one which demands much from its writers and actors. They pull this off with originality, flair and skill.

“Watching VEGAS was genuinely an utter delight: it was funny, it was heartfelt, and it was original”

The show is thoroughly charming and packed with clever jokes, yet never becomes cliché or boring. It’s carried by two strong and engaging performances, both of which had spot-on comic timing and bundles of ‘rav’ (meaning ‘gravitas’ – Freddie’s newly coined challenge to ‘rizz’). Although their relationship seemed more like friends than awkward ex-partners at times, their energy and zest was infectious and I was wrapped up in their bizarre but wonderful exchanges, from a passionate discussion of the difference between Manchester and Liverpool to the time it would take to capture a live chicken.

Yet some of this could have been refined and thought about slightly more. I was confused by the way in which the initial hungover state of the characters transformed into a ready enthusiasm that allowed for jumping over beds. I know that after a long night out that’s not something I’d be able to do until four, let alone 10am! Dialogue between the actors, also, could have flowed more smoothly when there was a transition into a new topic – these were the moments where the flaws in an otherwise excellent script arose.

“The show is thoroughly charming and packed with clever jokes”

But what made VEGAS stand out was its ability to weave in more serious and important topics among the humour, without it feeling forced or trite. Freddie’s monologue on his relationship with home while at Cambridge explored the divide between north and south, humanising an issue all too often weaponised by politicians and discussed in the abstract in the media. It was also able to transmit a more universal message of sadness and longing for home: my home is in Leicester, and while that’s certainly closer to Cambridge than Liverpool, having an elder brother who is non-verbal meant that I was able to relate deeply to Freddie’s frustrations. VEGAS also achieved this nuance in Poppy’s discussion of her abortion: it was an important, delicate and moving moment. Using sensory experience, specifically taste, to highlight the emotions underpinning her ordeal was an ingenious way to achieve this. There was a great sense of control in Alice Roberts’ delivery, and the sequence was navigated sensitively and deftly.


Mountain View

It’s about (fake) bloody time we talk about SFX

Since the rise of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Fleabag, new writing has often tried to take on both the comedic and more serious aspects of modern life. VEGAS is perhaps the only show I have seen in Cambridge that has struck the right balance between these two aspects, and this was down to its creativity, performances and clever writing.

Watching VEGAS was genuinely an utter delight: it was funny, it was heartfelt, and it was original. I left the Playroom feeling very proud that our university will be represented by such a lovely play at the Fringe. You would be mad to miss it before it closes – and you would be mad to miss it this summer if you are in Edinburgh.