by E V Crowe.
Royal Court (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 23 December 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 16 Dec 4pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 November.
Class act about actions out of class.
As the social class goes up, the ages come down. The pre-teens of Anya Reiss’s Spur of the Moment, here in the summer, are downright mature compared with E V Crowe’s 10-year old protagonists. Janey and Mimi occupy upper and lower tiers of a bunk-bed at their private school.
It’s to be wondered whether their parents realise the shabby environment for which they’re paying. As for the company their children keep, Crowe seems well aware of the shades of bullying and power-play in this micro-society. Ellen may be a year older, but she’s definitely on the fringes, while bodily positioning enforces apparently polite, but definite discouragement when it comes to queuing for the payphone.
The focus moves from Janey and Mimi as a pair to Mimi and her encroaching loneliness – a result of the self-preoccupation her name reflects. Yet it’s in the earlier scenes the pair come out with casual obscenities; it’s lifestyle, not challenging circumstances, that produces the forms of four-letter words that are their equivalent of secretly shared cigarettes.
Maya Gerber and Madison Lygo perform with particular confidence, while Ellen Hill has a contrasting lightness of movement and speech, making her a target for the bullying which Janey especially deploys to assert herself. It’s not hard to project Madison Lygo’s confidence and aplomb into an adult future of social prowess and personal unhappiness.
Janey doesn’t get involved in the school play, unlike her room-mate. This is a school which has 10-year olds ambitiously performing The Crucible, another story of a young, dominant bullying female – even if it means the young actors miss chunks out on the night.
The Royal Court has evidently found enough strong young performers to accommodate the necessary alternating of key roles. It hardly has to try with the nugatory adult roles. Annette Badland expresses the house-mistress’s busy concern, while Kevin McMonagle compensates for the slight cameo governor’s role with too much detail, and Ollie Barbieri is straightforwardly tactful as Mimi’s older brother. Crowe presents a series of scenes without much forward propulsion but provides acute studies in the formation of a social class.
Janey: Mimi Keene/Madison Lygo.
Mimi: Maya Gerber/Clare Southwood.
Mrs B: Annette Badland.
Nina: Fern Deacon/Ellen Hill.
Mr Thorne Kevin McMonagle.
Marcus: Ollie Barbieri.
Director: Jeremy Herrin.
Designer: Bunny Christie.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound: Christopher Shutt.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Manal Awad.