In a term where we’ve been starved of student drama, anything new is met with significant fanfare. While it’s tempting to be cynical, this play lives up to its own hype. In V-Card, written by Alison Hall, Hazel is every inch the typical student – until her friends find out she’s never had sex. They set out to ‘help’ and chaos ensues.
Hall’s writing is sharp and amusing, capturing everything from electric flirtation to cringy small talk to overenthusiastic but seemingly well-meaning housemates; the script is never afraid to get awkward or ridiculous. There is always a risk that student playwrights will slip into angst or slapstick, not doing justice to their subject matter. However, rather than catering to extremes, Hall instead cleverly and humorously addresses a variety of attitudes to virginity and sexuality. While this nuance is evident in V-Card’s writing, the show also serves as a fundraiser for GALOP, the UK’s only specifically LGBTQ+ anti-sexual violence charity.
Ellie Fullwood is brilliantly expressionistic and believably innocent as Hazel while Lorcan Cudlip Cook’s God – yes, God (Jesus also appears in the show) – is authoritative and ridiculous in equal measure. Glyn Owen, as Freddie, is perfectly boorish and surprisingly realistic, carrying off salmon-coloured trousers and a penchant for sadism. The cast all interact with assured ease, a difficult feat when working virtually.
The show was originally intended to be performed in a traditional format. However, the small matter of a pandemic quickly altered that. Hall told Cherwell that, while the news was initially “quite disappointing…ultimately, making it into a radio play was a blessing”. With the other pre-lockdown option being socially distanced heavy petting, a radio play seems more authentic, particularly considering the production’s liberal attitude to sound effects; I, for one, am curious to hear Smurf Bukkake’s song ‘I’ll Think of England When We Fuck’ and then to immediately repress all memories of it, unlike the play, which looks to be one to remember.
V-Card is piercingly shrewd, confidently witty and has adapted excellently to its current circumstances. Hazel may or may not lose her virginity, but you’d better not lose your ticket.
Image credit: Phillip Olney.