There can be nothing more unkind than robbing kids of their childhood through sexual exploitation. This is the subject of Crystal Kisses, a new play by Avaes Mohammed and Sabrina Mahfouz. The writers have handled their subject sensitively and with insight.
Despite its expletives, the script contains beautiful descriptions of, for example, a sunset and the use of movement including slow sommersaults, makes the most explicit sexual acts palatable. Another interesting aspect is the use of silhouette which illustrates upsetting scenes without them becoming unbearable to watch.
The cast grasp the realities facing their characters and Yusra Warsama as Toyah conveys a damaged child who uses aggression to conceal her true feelings. Her friend Ally (Mandip Gill) is a naïve Asian schoolgirl lured to a wood by a man and raped by his mate. Gill is remarkably good - moving the audience at every turn and along with Ste Myott and Zariah Bailey reveal their bravado is linked to insecurity. This is the most thought provoking and well acted scene in the play.
The only male victim, Jay, (Tachia Newall) finds a kind of love from a stranger but the price he has to pay is unbearable to witness.
The play is recommended for ages 13+ but you would have to be a very tough teen to stomach the shocking events portrayed. But Crystal Kisses remains gripping throughout.