Play for September

‘Schoolgirls have crushes on teachers all the time.’ Yes. Yes they do, but most of us didn’t have teachers who took it seriously. Play for September is a beautiful piece of new writing that explores the classic school girl crush and unearths the danger lurking beneath. Hirst is not afraid to tackle the darker questions and it pays off - the writing is powerful, punchy and extraordinarily honest. She admits the play is based around a personal experience and I can only applaud her brave decision to give the story life on stage. It’s a very, very impressive debut play.

Elle and Kay are 14 year old girls with a true teenage friendship - best friends who will keep secrets no matter what. Elle is the sensible one and Kay, well, Kay’s not exactly sure who she is but if she won the lottery ‘she’d choose the holiday option’. Elle is our narrator and, with the help of a whiteboard, tells us a tale of the covert relationship between Kay and her 28 year old English teacher Bode. The acting is superb from all the cast and Rianna Dearden, playing Elle, must be given a special mention. Her frank and fresh performance perfectly captures both the naivety and the insecurities of being fourteen while avoiding obvious clichés. Her monologues were true joy to watch. Jim Crago, playing Bode, must also be commended for his humane performance; a difficult part to play, he never became the obvious villain.

The staging is minimal and works to great effect. The actors handle the space beautifully, turning the limitations into advantages and fostering an intimacy with the audience that really adds to the piece. It would be interesting to see this piece with actual fourteen year olds. Uncomfortable as it is, we are always aware that the actresses themselves are not of the ages that they are playing. Employing younger actresses would remove this safety net and really force the script to hit home.

A play for anyone who has ever had a crush on a teacher, Play for September is a seriously impressive production from a young and talented cast. Hirst is certainly a lady to watch out for, I look forward to what Lost Watch will offer us next.

Reviews by Zoe Hunter Gordon

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Performances

The Blurb

September 2003. Elle and Kay waste time after school. But when wasting time leads to your teacher falling in love with you, they discover how loyalties can be as false as the man they call Sir.

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