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It was on, it was off, but finally it was on again – but with a disclaimer stating that Max Stafford-Clark, co-director and editor of this newly revised version of the late Andrea Dunbar’s semi-autobiographical play, left the production after 3 days of rehearsals, when allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour hit the papers.

Yet it’s impossible to completely divorce his name from the short career of this playwright from a West Yorkshire council estate who sadly drank herself to death, in 1990 at the age of 29. He not only directed her debut play, The Arbor, at this theatre in 1980, but also the first production of this, her second, a couple of years later.

Babysitting best friends Rita and Sue are not yet 16, but that doesn’t stop 27 year old married handyman Bob from making a detour via the moors when he drives them home. He only has one thing on his mind. And, so, it seems have the two girls as, one after the other, they take turns on the reclining seats of his car for an unceremonious “jump.” It’s functional, joyless, definitely consensual and, as there’s nothing much else to do on the estate, an arrangement which carries on, even when his wife (Samantha Robinson) becomes suspicious that her husband is playing away, again.

Dunbar wrote about what she knew – and the picture she paints of the limited prospects of Northern working class girls in Thatcher’s Britain is both bleak but also, at times, very funny in Kate Wasserberg’s 80 minute production.

James Atherton’s mullet-haired Bob gamely bares his bum as he gets his end away, twice, in quick succession, but isn’t quite as cocky as he first seems, whilst Taj Atwal’s Rita and Sue (Gemma Dobson making an impressive stage debut) bicker over who is going to go first. And Sue’s constantly rowing parents (Sally Bankes and David Walker) are a depressing reminder of what the future probably has in store for the two 15 year olds.

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS

Tube: Sloane Square

Until 27th January 2018

£12.00 - £45.00



Theatre Review: Rita, Sue and Bob Too
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