A HIT play at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe has debuted in London after being met with critical acclaim. 

Written by Benny Ainsworth, directed by Michael Parker and starring Sally Paffett alongside Ainsworth, Vermin centres on a young couple, Billy and Rachel, facing a rat problem. 

That “vermin” problem comes following Rachel’s stillbirth, bringing all the unresolved trauma surrounding that to the forefront of their relationship. 

“It is really dark but Benny’s writing is fantastic. It’s crisp and clear and energised. Audiences are shocked, sad and happy. It takes you through a lot of emotions and we don’t give audiences room to sit in it”, Paffett told The National.

Following success at Scotland’s major arts festival, it’s playing at the Arcola Theatre in London until April 1.  

The whole cast is composed of just the two actors which, although it may seem challenging on the face of things, is an environment Paffett says she thrives in. 

She explained: “Our set is minimal but I love it. We’re trying to budget ourselves and not carry too much stuff around.

“What’s great about this play is we can use our audience as well so we look directly into their eyes and riff off them which keeps the energy alive but I think it’s going to be great at the Arcola to use the space to the best of our ability. I’m excited to see how it works there.

“Me and Benny know each other really well and can play off each other so it’s much easier than just doing a one-person play.”

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Like his co-star, Ainsworth is excited to see what a new audience will bring. He said: “It’s not interactive but we do include the audience with direct address and you get in-your-face reactions. 

The Edinburgh Fringe wasn’t the play’s debut though, with Ainsworth and Paffett also taking it to Brighton last year. 

“When we trialled in Brighton when we didn’t know how they would react we got people interrupting, responding and almost passing out which we had never experienced before”, the play’s writer told The National. 

“We had some experience of putting it on but then Edinburgh was a different kettle of fish, it was really intense with no breaks. 

“That felt like a trial by fire but it was amazing. I love the Edinburgh Fringe, it’s like a theme park for theatre-goers.”

As celebrated a festival it is, the Edinburgh Fringe can be a tough gig for performers, with the cost of living putting a strain on artists who need to live in the city during festival season. 

Paffett says it’s great that they were able to find subsequent success rather than finishing things up at the Fringe. 

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“This was our aim. I think that’s the case for a lot of companies, going to Edinburgh and then get a transfer over. 

“I’m just elated to know that the Fringe still works. It’s not just somewhere people go and lose a bit of money.

“You can actually go and carry on your show.”