By: Indigo Cleverley, TRP Reviewer
Comedy is an excellent tool in exploring heavy topics in a captivating way and Faun is an excellent example of this. Important commentary on contemporary concerns such as homelessness and LGBTQ+ and fears intertwined with witty sarcasm, satire and laughs.
From their very first line the main character Ace, a transgender non-binary guy with a very full heart but empty pockets, captures the audience with their Fleabag-style amusing asides and relatable but painfully accurate comments. Aitch Wylie (they/them/he) does a fantastic job and their comedic timing and energy is infectious. The scene with the panpipes is a work of comedic genius. Nyah Randon (she/they) and Afront Moran (they/them) play multi roles and embody each character they portray humorously and charmingly; Afront Maron as ‘plant’ is quite possibly my favourite character I have seen on stage!
The show follows Ace who is currently residing on ‘sofa 13’ in the living room of Paige, who works in social media marketing and is satirised for being more upper class, and her boyfriend Ant, a bar manager. Ace, having lived on 12 previous sofas, seems to have mastered the perfect set of social skills needed to be the ideal housemate. However, tension arises when Ace and Ant have sex one night whilst Paige is away. Stealing Paige’s posh Waitrose crisps is one thing, but stealing her boyfriend is not a scenario Ace has prepared for. Not to mention how Ace is gradually getting more ‘faun-like’, growing pointed ears, a tail and horns which is a unique, interesting way to symbolise the ‘fawning’ of the character and the effect it has on their body.
Vinnie Heaven’s writing is charming, enthralling and touching. The recurring breaking of the fourth wall is a practical yet comedic way of conveying Ace’s genuine, candid feelings when they fabricate a grateful, accepting persona and manner of speaking in order to charm. This clever use of audience involvement, helpfully aided by The Drum’s intimate layout, keeps audience members engrossed and feeling part of the show.
The significance and implication of the metaphorical creature and transformation becomes more apparent in the second half of the play where Ace, upon being thrown onto the streets by a betrayed Paige, begins a fairytale-esque journey through a magical queer forest and is acquainted with the hardy Doe and her trusty pal Plant. Together, they teach people-pleasing Ace to embrace their personality, put themselves first and stand up for themselves. I did feel that the 2 parts of the play, one naturalistic and the other very fantastical, felt slightly disconnected and I found a touch confusing. Nevertheless, Ace’s lessons in self love are moving and an important message to people about how despite judgements and conventional expectations, it’s invaluable to be your true self and not let people trod over you.
A key feature that stands out to me is the design elements of the show. The vibrant, flamboyant lighting (designed by Laura Howard) conveys the energetic atmosphere of the show and its characters but also is cleverly used, for example, in the scene where Ant plays on the PS4 at 2am with the blinding bright light and where Ace stands looking down at the water to see their reflection and a turquoise light on the side of the stage illuminates Ace. These small moments particularly were smart subtle additions to the scenes. The use of props throughout is skillfully executed and the interluding sounds between scene changes (sound designed by Mwen) is buoyant and maintains the pace of the show.
Witty, bold, sharp and joyful – Faun is an important play full of prominent tough issues but also hysterical comedy all supported by the superb, cracking cast. It is for sure a show to fawn over (oh deer what an awful joke). Ok I’m stopping.