by Ruby Rae Spiegel.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street London SW1 6S2 To 21 November 2015.
Mon-Sat 8pm. Mat Sat 4pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7287 2875.
Review: William Russell 5 November.
School no longer means The Happiest Days of Your Life.
That playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel can write is never in doubt, but this tale of girls in trouble at an American High School is strong stuff which is hard, to take to put it mildly.
There is advance warning about scenes of a sexual nature, so no complaints about the content. There is, indeed, a young man in the cast so one expected to be inflicted with nudity and the inevitable rumpy-pumpy one gets these days too often.
Not a bit of it. This is abortion time – on stage, messily and difficult to watch. Set in the girl’s locker-room at the school swimming pool, the play is not light entertainment.
On the plus side, the playing is splendid and there is much to admire in the writing. Amy (Milly Thomas), a tough young thing who is expecting, is getting Ester (Aisha Fabienne Ross), the apparently vulnerable new girl, to punch her repeatedly in the stomach. It is a battle of personalities in which the apparently weaker girl proves to be the stronger of the two.
Meanwhile Reba (Charlotte Hamblin) looks on, offering detached, unaware comments on the warfare before her eyes.
The developing friendship-in-adversity between the other two girls is beautifully shown, as is the change in the balance of power. Amy is going it alone because she cannot tell her mother about her predicament and as a glimpse into the lives, the sort of dilemma young American high school girls can face it makes for a mind-boggling evening.
Whether it is anything like the lives of the equivalent young women here is anybody’s guess and so is whether it will achieve the aim of Damsel Productions to engage audiences who generally shy away from the theatre.
It does, however, provoke and shock. Ethel M Dell would have a thing or two to say no doubt.
Amy: Milly Thomas.
Ester: Aisha Fabienne Ross.
Reba: Charlotte Hamblin.
Victor: Dan Cohen.
Janitor: Mark Keegan.
Director: Hanna Hauer-King.
Designer: Anna Reid.
Lighting: Joe Price.
Sound: Nathan Klein.
Dialogue coach: Gretchen Egolf.
Fight director: Kiel O’Shea.