The Unicorn, VAULT Festival

by Diana Miranda

Recently unemployed and battling feelings of loneliness, Andrea explores casual dating for connection and distraction – mostly distraction. Tinder one-night-stands gradually evolve into exclusive sex parties. Dissecting a newfound sexual drive, Andrea probes a path that offers a soothing, exciting alternative to her seemingly crumbling life, but her boundary-pushing exploration soon reveals a story of addiction.

After a run in Edinburgh last summer, Ox Production’s The Unicorn makes its London debut, taking audiences through the unrepressed, taboo-free pleasure of the kink scene with a surprisingly lighthearted touch. Alice Lamb brings an endearing, unstoppable Andrea to life. She moves energetically around the stage with a demeanour as eager as it is tense – all wide eyes and stiff muscles – taking hold of the audience’s attention throughout.

Sam Potter’s script illustrates the sex parties scene in a manner that doesn’t shy away from describing the glamour and kink. However, it’s not a show that aims to arouse the body with unabashed eroticism. The piece aptly walks the line between sexual liberation and sexual addiction, chronicling depression and repressed trauma. Andrea is labelled a unicorn because she’s a woman willing to attend sex parties by herself. But the show is also sparkled with metaphors of a mythical creature constantly hunted and running away from something. The piece succeeds in painting a picture of the world Andrea’s discovering, but it focuses on her life story, making audiences part of her thoughts, doubts and resolutions.

The stagecraft blends perfectly to draw audiences in. The lighting and sound design (by Amy Daniels and Jack Drewry, respectively) add texture to a modest set, composed of nothing but a mic stand and a red, fluffy carpet. Their sharp interventions subtly influence the tone, creating an enthralling piece that never drags under the direction of Tom Brennan. Voice distortion is used to represent other characters through the mic, a gimmick coupled with Lamb’s agile handling of the script and witty maneuvering of the mic stand to season emotional vignettes (rubbing it against her body, tightening the chord, heavy-breathing, you get the picture). If you come across this unicorn down the surreal tunnels at Waterloo, it’s certainly worth catching.

The Unicorn runs through 26 February.

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