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Diary: Batty show hangs out at Vault Festival

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Playwrights can find inspiration in the most unusual places as they attempt to conjure up their next masterpiece.

While many look to their own lives, or to current affairs, one writer found his next, big idea in a Guardian long-read feature about “Britain’s loneliest bat”.

Yes, it sounds batty, but the feature tells a true tale about the only known greater mouse-eared bat in the UK, which has spent the past 16 years hiding under a disused railway tunnel in Sussex.

From this sad story, writer Barry McStay has created Vespertilio, a gay love story between a middle-aged conservationist who is guarding the bat and a young homeless man who stumbles into the tunnel for shelter. It premieres in a disused tunnel at London’s Vault Festival.

McStay told the Guardian: “Why do we keep watching stories about two people falling in love? There has to be a new way of telling the story. This seemed like just another brilliant way of telling a very old story.”

Cast member Joshua Oakes-Rogers was equally enthused, telling the Guardian: “I had a thing for bats. If we ever went to a zoo, my mum would find me just standing in the dark room watching them all hung above.”

Sounds like he’ll fit right in at Vault, where all the theatremakers and critics hiding out in the dark become more than a little vampire-like by the end of the festival.


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