Nineteen Tory Street, Wellington

06/03/2013 - 09/03/2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

Production Details

How would you squeeze your zits if you didn’t have a reflection?  

Vampimple, is writer and performer Alice May Connolly’s debut theatre work to be performed during the 2013 Wellington Fringe Festival.

It’s hard enough being a vampire these days let alone having a face ravaged by acne. Vampimple is a peculiar story about a teenage vampire, Vampimple (Connolly) and her quest for friendship, love, and clear skin. The story is a semi-autobiographical account of Connolly’s struggle with acne as a teen, fused with fantastical imaginings of undead alienation.

Throughout this tender and comedic journey through the idiosyncratic psyche of a hungry bloodsucker, the spectator becomes witness to Connolly’s personal confession, and erotic fantasies. The show’s director and recent Toi Whakaari acting graduate, Jonathan Power plays her make-believe lovers. Of Connolly, Power says, “I find it slightly disconcerting that she drinks blood from a juice-box and then bursts it on the floor, but then again, I did that when I was younger too. There really isn’t that much difference between us if you look past her animalistic urges, guileless fatuity, and pockmarked complexion, you know”.

For fans of Buffy (not Twilight), Vampimple is a unique, hilarious, and somewhat-true account of one little vampire’s huge bursting pustules, and desire for love. 

6, 8, 9 March, 8:30pm,
Nineteen Tory Street.
Entrance is by koha.
To secure seats email Alice at, .

Popping the pustules of teenage hopes, dreams, fears and vulnerabilities

Review by Charlotte Simmonds 07th Mar 2013

Alice May Connolly plays a nerdy, perpetually seventeen year-old vampire who works to dispel the various vampire myths that we as humans have accumulated over a couple of centuries of pulp literature.

It seems we have distanced ourselves from the feelings and hearts of vampires who are now in need of some serious anthropomorphising, seeing as we weren’t quite connecting with their human-like hopes, dreams, fears and vulnerabilities … And somewhere beneath all of this, Connolly is telling us her own stories: deeply personal, relatable and entirely empathy-evoking. 

This is theatre at its lo-fi-est, and just as the way in which low frequency music attracts its own devout fans who arduously seek out early cassette recordings of unproduced music in deplorable audio quality, requiring the song itself to be everything to the listener, so lo-fi theatre also is not without its charm and need not always go unappreciated. 

Although all those involved have in fact been trained and taught at respectable institutions, Vampimple still exudes a strong sense of outsider art which is actually highly appropriate, given the subject matter of a vampire who is an outsider, not only to the human world but also to the world of her kinspeople (kinspires?). 

Initial director Jonathan Power [seconded to the Court in Christchurch] writes in the programme that it is Connolly’s ‘irresistible stage presence’ that made her such a joy to work with, yet I feel it is her complete lack of stage presence that draws this small, intimate crowd in to hear her stories. As a performer, she is not commanding but rather unaffected, with a large amount of performance innocence and naïveté that isn’t necessarily a trait of the character she plays. 

In the programme notes, current director Kenneth Robert Gaffney and Connolly place a lot of emphasis on the personal difficulties they faced while working on this piece and keep reiterating the need for ‘safety’ for the performer. As a former performer who has previously told very personal stories on stage, and who continues to write very personal works of literature, I have to confess that the concept of keeping myself ‘safe’ in a public arena is not one I have ever thought about. I therefore find it hard to understand the motivation for telling your own personal stories if they are still so raw and tender that you, the narrator, run the risk of finding yourself in a situation resembling emotional danger. Is it not then wiser, if the situation is truly so precarious, to allow more time to elapse before facing your past? 

On the other hand, I certainly do understand the feeling of having a work pressing against your back to the point where you just want to release it outdoors so that it can run off on its own, getting out of your system and your house, allowing you to forget about it. And in such an instance, 19 Tory Street is the ideal venue for its run. 

There are many moments of humour, many moments of touching sweetness and some comic, again charming me in the style of outsider art; drawings I’d have liked to see more of.  

This work is a long way from being ready to stand up and hold its own at an established theatre, even a small one like BATS that is generally perceived as being “everybody’s safe place”, but I get the feeling that this isn’t where the creators of this piece would want it to go either. At 19 Tory Street, if personal safety is what the creators are looking for, they are indeed in safe hands. With the audience drawn up close and cosily on small chairs and couches, every face visible and the laugher of every laugh easily discernable, there little room for more audience members than friends and family who love you the most.

I don’t want to say something as clichéd as “a brave performance” but being a teenager is freaking horrible for nearly everyone and it does require bravery to go back there.   

It is also comforting to be given the opportunity to hang around and chat with the creators of the show afterwards, and watch Connolly take off her teenage acne face to become that secretly gorgeous adult we’re trained to believe from fairy stories all ugly, nerdy children do become.

And on that note, don’t forget about Corner Diary, in which everyone else goes back to awkward childhood and gangly adolescence so that you don’t have to, and in which Connolly has also performed this year, bravely delivering herself a double whammy of revisiting the past. Ouch! 


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