[REVIEW]That’s Ace at the VAULT Festival

By Kat Mokrynski

“Sex to me is a bit like cognitive thought to a worm. You can never miss what you don’t have”

When looking through the hundreds of show options at the VAULT Festival to arrange my schedule, one show almost immediately caught my eye – That’s Ace. As an asexual person myself, I had never seen myself represented on stage, let alone seen my sexuality as the main topic of a performance. In fact, the only time I had the word “asexual” spoken on stage was in Take Me Out, and it was a gay man declaring that he wasn’t a “lousy asexual”. So as I stepped into The Pit in The Vaults, notebook in hand and black ring on my finger, I must admit that I was a bit nervous about what I was going to see, but within minutes, my fears melted away and were replaced with appreciation and admiration. 

Before the performance, producer James Creighton-Goode (his professional theatre debut) welcomed us to what would be a “Relaxed” performance, which included reduced sound, keeping the house lights on with the programme lights runnings, no haze, no sudden noises, and no blackouts. None of these detracted from the show and enabled those who might not have been comfortable to see the show in a non-relaxed performance to have a chance to see it, so kudos to Creighton-Goode for the inclusive decision. 

Written by Jonny Brace, a fellow asexual, That’s Ace is a beautiful solo show that reflects on a young queer woman going to a club for the first time after being invited by her crush, Sasha. Tiffany Marina Pearmund stars as Ace, who gets her name (and her gay awakening) from a companion of the 7th Doctor in Doctor Who. Ace tells the audience that some may consider her “mean”, but she claims that she refuses to be nice to those who have been rude to her.  She frequently references her Catholic upbringing, including a hilarious bit about reading erotic fanfiction to a priest during confession. In many ways, I found myself relating to Ace, ranging from her incredibly logical view of the world and humanity to her hilariously awkward dancing in the club. 

Brace displays his writing talents through witty dialogue and gorgeous monologues, both of which Pearmund delivers with ease. I particularly enjoyed a monologue Ace gives when preparing how she is going to confess her feelings to her crush, Sasha, in which she states, “I want to see the world through your eyes”, continuing to describe her feelings in a unique way that makes the audience reflect on the differences between friendship and love. Indeed, how is anyone, asexual or not, able to tell the difference? To quote Ace, “Is it love? Is it friendship? What’s the fucking difference?”

Pearmund does a brilliant job performing as one person in what we must imagine to be a packed club, weaving between the audience benches and going up and down the stairs of the stage to represent her traveling throughout the club, looking for Sasha and trying to avoid people on the dance floor. I was impressed by her ability to have conversations with thin air while making it feel like there was someone next to her, taking having a one-way conversation to a new level. 

Ultimately, That’s Ace is a fantastic one-woman show that manages to be both hilarious and contemplative, asking a range of questions and giving the audience the chance to come up with answers of their own. The acting talent of Pearmund combined with the quick and smart writing of Brace makes for a beautiful show that reflects not only on asexuality but how it feels to be falling in love as a young adult, questioning what love really is. There is certainly not enough asexual representation in the theatre world, but for now, I am pleased to let That’s Ace be the main representation. 

That’s Ace runs at the VAULT Festival from 14 to 17 March with performances runnings at 6:30 PM in The Pit at The Vaults. Tickets can be purchased here.

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