Once the home of the Angry Young Men of the 50’s, the Royal Court now seems to have entered a new era of discovering even younger female talent. Only 17 when she wrote this, her first play, last year, schoolgirl Anya Reiss becomes, apparently, the youngest playwright ever to have her work staged in a prime London theatre.
It’s a remarkably accomplished piece – quick-witted, funny and with a rueful understanding of dysfunctional family life.
Twelve year old middleclass Delilah’s sliced open Surrey home (meticulously designed by Max Jones) looks substantial enough, but inside everything is imploding. Her father has not only shagged his boss, but has since been sacked by her. And hot 21 year old student lodger, James McArdle’s Daniel (taken in to help ease the depleted family finances) is attracting far too much attention from the aptly named pre-teen and her High School Musical fan friends.
Jeremy Herrin’s swift production guides the action expertly round the house – recrimination-fuelled exchanges between Sharon Small’s hurting Vicky and her errant husband Nick (Kevin Doyle) in the kitchen, a sullen sofa-sharing evening watching a DVD in the living room, and increasingly fraught and farcical encounters in (and between) Daniel’s and Delilah’s facing bedrooms upstairs.
And Shannon Tarbet (making her professional debut as Delilah) perfectly embodies the contradictions of being, simultaneously, part child and part adult as she gets an early life lesson that acting on impulse inevitably leads to all sorts of unwanted repercussions.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube: Sloane Square tube
020 7565 5000
Until 21st August
Review: Louise Kingsley