Rachel and Billy are a young couple in love. After an unconventional meeting and a whirlwind romance they find themselves moving into their dream home. Just one problem, there is a rat infestation. The rats soon cause hidden temptations and unresolved issues to the surface as the young couple’s life spirals into a crescendo of blood, guts and vengeance.

Speaking to the audience, Sally Paffett’s Rachel and Benny Ainsworth’s Billy share the story of how they met. They are on a train and there is a delay due to a potential suicide. It’s a little off beat, and definitely a little morbid, but, they’re young and sweet and everyone has a touch of the weird about them.

From there the narrative seamlessly jumps around from the past to the present as you get to know the couple and it quickly becomes clear that this ‘normal’ couple are more than a little strange. Billy likes to torture animals; he recounts an incident from his childhood involving a bird and a cat. He goes into excruciatingly graphic detail, which prompted a visceral reaction from the audience. What made this tale all the worse, was the rapt expression on Rachel’s face, before her declaration of ‘I love that story!’. 

Paffett and Ainsworth have great chemistry and their gentle bickering as they describe their meeting and setting up home together is endearing. Even as everything starts to go wrong, you never stop believing in them as a couple and their relationship quirks are relatable. The set only consists of a couple of chairs, so the entire focus is on their wonderful, if gory, storytelling all the way to the logical end that you’ll never see coming. 

Vermin is an unnerving and unsettling experience. Paffett and Ainsworth are excellent as they pull you into the lives of their characters, skilfully keeping you with them even as everything gets very, very dark.