Vernon God Little

Someone once wrote of the novel Vernon God Little that it ‘was a work of unutterably tedious nastiness and vulgarity’, and its author DBC (Dirty But Clean) Pierre ‘a man with no discernible literary talent whose vulgarity of mind was deep and thoroughgoing’. This play does feature amputee porn and a website called Bambi Boy Butt Bazaar. Yet they were face-palmingly, unutterably, tediously wrong: the novel is a wonderfully black and hilarious satire of American small-town ignorance and hypocrisy and of the ways in which society can tend towards rewarding the immoral. It won the Booker prize in 2003.

Attempting a stage adaptation is remarkably ambitious. The story is difficult: Vernon Little is accused of being an accomplice to a high-school shooting after his best friend enacts a massacre before committing suicide. He becomes a scapegoat - his friend is dead and they need someone to punish - and he runs away to Mexico rather than fight his case, for reasons unclear until the end. Another problem is Pierre’s prose style: dense with linguistic flair, full of Texan ticks and tongue-feel. Preserving this aspect of the novel might seem to be essential: without Vernon Little’s ability with language, we don’t root for him in the same way. However, in this adaptation Vernon is not as present; he’s not the narrator, and he doesn’t even have the majority of the lines. Instead the dialogue between those involved in his scapegoating is preserved in all its coruscating splendour, bitterly tweaking the banalities and bizarre excesses of the American South and letting their moral lacuna illuminate Little’s innocence. It works because the dialogue maintains even some of Pierre’s most shocking and complex exchanges - and because the performances are universally excellent.

Yet there is something bigger underlying this production: the use of music. The tendency of the townsfolk to break into inappropriate song is an extremely funny and effective way of demonstrating their darkly clueless insensitivity; a courtroom scene in which the main antagonist, Eulalio Ladesma, leads a rousing chorus of Amazing Grace, denying Little a chance to speak, is my favourite individual scene so far this Fringe. However, without Little’s voice and his way with words, this stage version falls short of the novel’s comic intensity. Little’s Texan drawl is not as convincing as almost all of the other cast members, a shame when the rest of the performance is intriguing. Ladesma is a great character, dripping with the grease of evil. This is a wonderfully dark and funny play which is sensitive to its amazing source material.

Reviews by James Macnamara


Government Inspector

Stand in the Square

Is Your Marmite Watching You?

The Jazz Bar

Jazz Rite of Spring

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Rachel Stubbings: Doing It for Himself

C venues - C nova

Cabaret Nova

The Edinburgh Academy

West Side Story


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now


The Blurb

Vernon God Little follows an intelligent teenager, innocently accused of capital murder, on his adventures through the penal and legal system.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets