Angels In Heels opens with high ambitions: a class of sixth formers giggle and misbehave as they and the audience are treated to a brisk history of Manchester from the industrial revolution to the Madchester days of the late 80s and early 90s, before the students - faced with the full arc of the city's varying fortunes - wonder what memories Manchester will leave them with. From here the show wanders from its mission statement somewhat. Angels In Heels is not so much a social commentary on Manchester in 2012 – the story it tells and the themes it covers could plausibly apply to any part of the country – but rather it is a tale of the uncertainty of young adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it.
The play follows four girls as they juggle their university aspirations with a host of difficulties: increased fees; the need to find work; responsibilities at home; and all manner of teenage relationships. Darlene Charles and Kay Victoria Hindmarsh deserve high praise for the maturity of their performances as Tanya and Laura respectively: these two actresses, whose roles provide the thrust of the play's narrative, entirely avoid lazy stereotypes that are very much there for the taking. Hindmarsh is particularly impressive opposite Joshua Ruhle, playing her teacher Mr Cooper, in a number of deliciously awkward romantic scenes.
Standout performances of a different kind come from Owen Pullar and Briony Price, both of whom bring a touch of comic relief to these potentially weighty proceedings in their roles as the cheeky sleazeball Kirk, provider of fake I.D.s, and the confident, music loving, and 'OMG'-spouting Maria. All in all, this charmingly delivered, carefully constructed and heartfelt play makes for a delightful free Fringe experience and marks young writer Hayley Cusick as a talent to watch.