Lilly Nicholls reviews Vixen, playing in the Weston Studio at Bristol Old Vic until Saturday 16 April.
Travelling Light presents Vixen, a story of a girl who wants to belong. It’s written by Matt Grinter and performed by Alice Lamb as Saffi, an 11-year-old girl who finds herself lost, lonely, and desperately seeking her ‘pack’.
Vixen is a one-person show with sparse staging, but through a few well-placed props and the unconventional use of a microphone we are able to visualise Saffi’s estate and those who inhabit it.
Saffi begins by telling us 11 is a terrible age to be – she is big enough to worry, but not big enough to be heard. Throughout the show Lamb continues to demonstrate the duality of tweenhood as she engages with fast-paced playful streams of thought followed by parroted grown-ups’ cliches (“grey houses, grey sky”).
We learn that Saffi is at an impasse, her mother has left the family home, her father is distracted and cold, her dog Brutus is hardly the greatest companion and life on the estate is the same day in, day out… until the fateful day when Brutus leads her into Raincoat Man’s cluttered yard where they happen upon the Vixen.
It’s an encounter that fills Saffi with inspiration, hope and a fire deep in her belly, she watches the Vixen and her cubs and envies their bond, she wills them to accept her as part of the pack, and she begins to feel as though her place is with them.
This play delivers a powerful punch emotionally, reminding us of the vastness of emotions when you’re only a little person, (Travelling Light’s website lists trigger warnings for the themes of immigration, bereavement, loss, estrangement and fire). There is also light and hope in the show with tender moments between Saffi and her unlikely friends.
Ultimately, Saffi discovers her pack was right around her all along but she has changed since her encounter with the Vixen and carries part of that fierce soul with her forever.
This show is for children 7+ and their families and my nearly seven-year-old was engaged throughout. There was enough comedy and physical theatre peppered throughout the more difficult parts to keep him alert and the show packed its 45 minute run time with so much animated story telling that it felt not a minute too long.
Vixen is at the Weston studio, Bristol Old Vic from 13-16 April Tickets are available at bristololdvic.org.uk