Brute

Poppy must make a rather rapid readjustment to Year 11 after being abruptly relocated from Spain to a girls' school in a remote British town. Both awkwardly self-conscious and unashamedly frank, Poppy gives us a terrifying but real account of what it is to grow up in a place where no one expects you to succeed.

Despite the awful subject matter, Tennyson is hilarious, never staying still for a moment but constantly twitching, blinking and brimming with life.

Apart from the joy of Izzy Tennyson's performance, the overwhelming enjoyment of this show is its flawless accuracy. Anyone who was in Year 11 in Britain in the last twenty years can remember every detail of what Poppy tells us and will recognise every character she introduces us to. From the pretty girls only being cool because they have Jane Norman bags to the politically incorrect but totally accepted slang language, Tennyson has fully recreated a British teenager's mind. Her environment is shocking and dangerous but we remember every gruesome detail.

The script is full of examples of how liberally spread verbal abuse and derogatory language are at this age. From the joy of inclusion by being given a nickname to the condemnation of characters such as Emily the Dormouse who "hasn't done anything apart from being fat and boring", Brute takes us through first experiences with alcohol, teachers who swear at you and never talking to a boy because you look like a troll.

"You can be anything you want to be", the girls are told by their headmaster. Increasingly shocking as the play goes on is how these girls are left to fend for themselves after being abandoned or deliberately chastised by all the adults around them. In a play which questions who is to blame for the brutish behaviour of these girls and as the drama heightens towards its shocking conclusion, we find ourselves pinballing between accusing parents, teachers or healthcare professionals for the state in which our young people are left to fend for themselves.

With observations such as "The pretty girls are fighting... it's brilliant" and "If you don't laugh about it, you'll cry", Tennyson has perfectly encapsulated what it means to be a teenager. Despite the awful subject matter, she is hilarious, never staying still for a moment but constantly twitching, blinking and brimming with life.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Being 14 is an awful age you know... You’re not a very nice person at 14. No one knows this better than new girl Poppy who's just started at an all-girls state school in a provincial English town. There are rules with no logic, sadistic jokes that aren’t actually funny and the most sinister games played out of boredom. And, you better not be fat or clever or you’re f*cked. Brute is an exciting piece of new writing based on the true events of a rather twisted, horrible schoolgirl.