The brusque directness of the title of Anoushka Warden's first play sums up its mood. This is a semi-autobiographical recounting of an extraordinary story – her abandonment by her mother who came under the control of a manipulative cult.  

But it is not emotion recollected in tranquillity. It burns with the anger and sadness that the teenage version of the playwright felt. It's a play propelled by a clearly-expressed sense of injustice and hurt that ends up revealing a remarkable resilience.

"My mum wasn't always a tw*t," the unnamed girl, played by a vibrantly watchable Patsy Ferran, explains in the opening lines of the play. "In the memories I had of her before I was ten she was a good mum."  That all changes when she goes for counselling – and comes under the influence of The Heal Thyself Centre for Self-Realisation and Transcendence, based in North Barrow.  Thereafter, she got brainwashed and thought she could heal people.

She also picks up a revolting boyfriend, known as the Moron, and it is this boyfriend that you expect will be the problem, particularly when he pulls the girl out of a car by her rucksack and slams her into a pavement.  But in fact it is the apparently saintly Natashiralandi, with her "stupid hand praying pose", who does the maximum emotional damage, sending the mother off to Canada to open a "sister centre", separating her from her children, and appropriating her money to the cult's cause. "I fucking hate them," says the girl, understandably.

The group really exists and the play is in part the girl's attempt to stop what happened to her family happening to others.  But what gives Warden's play such freshness and power is its details. These encompass physical manifestations: the way the cult's members love mushroom paste on toast, and eccentric clothes, for example ("If you were the chosen one why does that mean your dress sense has to be so shit," the girl remarks of the guru.)  

But it's also psychologically acute, noting how gangsta rap gives the heroine a much-needed sense of power or conjuring the exact sensation of eating a peanut butter chocolate, or of the little rag of cloth the girl draws across her lip so she doesn't miss goodnight kisses or the squirming embarrassment at having to answer the telephone in a spiritual voice. Nor does she shy away from describing how the girl explores drugs and sex on her trips to Canada – growing up far too fast, but with much enjoyment.

Under all the exuberance of the telling, the sorrow sounds its strain, in memories of a silent retreat over Christmas, where the only communication was via post it notes, or in the empty echoing of the years she discovered that her mother had been coming to England to meditate with the group, yet never finding time to see her lonely daughter.  

This is a hard play for all critics to write about because in her normal incarnation Warden is head of press and publicity for the Royal Court.  Knowing and liking her makes it difficult to separate the writer from the character, and simultaneously to cut her any slack.

Suffice it to say then, that ‘'My Mum's a Tw*t'' is a devastating story, well and wittily told.  Ferran is terrific, gently suggesting the understated depths of heartbreak – "Can you perhaps let her go now?" the daughter asks – while at the same time catching the plucky desire to look on the bright side which makes this a tale of survival and energy rather than one of misery and despair.

Directed with simplicity and flair by Vicky Featherstone and Jude Christian, and beautifully designed as a bright teenage bedroom by Chloe Lamford, it doesn't always quite fly as a piece of drama. But it never fails to engross and entertain - a promising start to a writing life.

My Mum's a Twat runs at the Royal Court until 20 January 2018.