First love is hard at the best of times, all those teenage hormones bouncing around. But poor Peter is walking a tightrope, the uneasy path between boyfriend and carer since his girlfriend, Rachel, was attacked.
In Jack Thorneís play we, like Rachel, are confined to her bedroom. The psychological effect of the assault has manifested as an inability to use her legs, so she remains in bed throughout.
Penelope Challenís naturalistic set, with posters on the walls and the soft pastel colours of a young girlís room remind us of the conflict between Rachelís adolescence and youth, and the unnaturalness of her attack; she may look like a woman but she still retains the trappings and innocence of girlhood. All Rachelís confused emotions are heavily laid at Peterís door, a sensitive boy who cares almost too much and is trying to negotiate his new role and the dangerous ground between Rachel and her Mother.
This is a tender play about the fragility of relationships and is played out superbly by a strong cast in Mike Bradwellís production. Morven Christie is suitably dislikeable as Rachel, so hard on Peter and her Mother, but trying to come to terms with whatís happened, fighting now when she didnít then.
Samuel Barnett lives up to his Whatsonstage.com Award of last year, turning in an incredibly detailed performance, beautifully nuanced, which grows from apologetic boy towards a stronger adolescent. Itís so accomplished that it belies his years.
Daniel Bayle and Lisa McDonald in their professional stage debuts are highly amusing as a pair of unwanted visitors. School peers of Rachel and Peter their banter and casual abuse is an uncomfortably accurate recreation of the nightmare of adolescence.
Thorne writes all the characters, young and old, male and female with surprising accuracy. He captures perfectly all the layers that coexist within human relationships, and although the resolution the audience so strongly desire never comes, this only serves to make the piece more though-provoking.
- Hannah Kennedy