Sap premiered in 2022 at the Edinburgh Fringe, playing at Roundabout @ Summerhall, to critical acclaim, gaining an astonishing 21 four- and five-star reviews.

Credit: David Monteith-Hodge

Rafaella Marcus’ Sap is loosely based on the myth of Daphne and Apollo; the show centres around Daphne, a bisexual woman living in the contemporary world. Daphne meets a guy she describes as ‘exactly what you think of when you think of just a guy’, and they have a one-night stand. She then meets and falls in love with a woman and fails to tell her about her sexuality due to the opinions the woman possesses about bisexuality. There’s more to the story than this, but I’m leaving it at that, so as not to spoil the plot.

Rūta Irbīte’s set is minimalistic, allowing the performances to stand by themselves, and boy, do they. Jessica Clark is captivating in the role of Daphne – I remained so utterly engrossed in her performance that each time Rebecca Banatvala entered the stage, it shocked me as I wasn’t aware of where she was if she was not within the scene. Clark’s Daphne is charismatic and brings out the lighter, more humorous moments in the script, she is effortlessly sharp in her delivery of the witty lines. Banatvala plays the other roles within the play and makes each of these easily recognisable, changing her mannerisms and tone of voice with each character she embodies – so much so, I don’t feel the ‘he said, she said’ lines of the script are required, I believe her performance displays the distinction well enough alone.

Marcus’ script is full of metaphors and lyrical lines, at times it does feel slightly too metaphorical, perhaps due to the short run time of 70 minutes and how dialogue heavy these parts of the script are. I also would have preferred a solid and more satisfying ending to the play. Jessica Lazar’s direction is faultless, allowing the performances to be at the forefront of the production and ensuring the momentum is sustained throughout. The asides to the audience are a great touch and make Daphne more personable, although there are moments where these feel slightly uneven, as though one-half of the audience can see her facial expressions, and the other half is not.

Credit: David Monteith-Hodge

To take inspiration from a myth written many, many years ago and apply the principles to a contemporary story is no mean feat, and it works seamlessly. There are some tough topics tackled within this play, and some moments linger in the air, heavy and tense – but this is an essential story to be told. Props should be given to Marcus for highlighting the biphobia present within other parts of the LGBTQIA+ community, as this is something rarely spoken about, but does indeed exist.

Sap is tough to watch at times, but is ultimately a vital story to be told, to raise awareness. Marcus’ script works in perfect harmony with Clark and Banatvala’s performances to successfully paint a vivid picture within our minds. Sap is both heartbreaking and humorous; this is a stellar debut.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sap is at Soho Theatre until the 22nd April, and is then on tour, stopping at; Keswick, Bury St Edmunds, Exeter, and Canterbury.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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