Skye is a little girl who, thankfully, is too young to realise the chaos around her. Her mother got pregnant unexpectedly - well, perhaps not too unexpectedly - and has struggled to cope ever since. Born into a middle class family where teenage pregnancy could be devastating, she has a reluctantly supportive grandmother and an auntie wracked with grief at her own childlessness. Annie is Skye’s mother; she undoubtedly loves her child and is committed to raising her as best she can. That is, until she makes a mistake.
This new piece of writing explores the trial of a young mother accused of neglecting her child. It is essentially a study in social class, particularly the smokescreens the middle classes use to convince themselves (and the world) that they are doing the right thing. This is pretty weighty stuff, handled impeccably by the young cast from North London Collegiate School. There was not a hint of inexperience in their performances as every actor remained entirely invested in her persona and nobody dropped out of character for a second. There are some striking performances, most noticeably from the girls playing the two mothers. Kate Howlett’s prosecuting lawyer is as convinced of her case as she is of the righteousness of her own parenting; the subtlety and power with which she plays this part gradually reveals a very broken person beneath. Shreya Patel as Skye’s grandmother shows us a woman who has already watched as her delusions have fallen down around her. Treading a fine line between composed dignity and abject humiliation, she has angst etched upon her every expression. They are supported by a host of terrific performances, including Grace Venning as Annie’s boss and Kate Emden as her sister. All of these young actresses are utterly convincing as young women far removed from their own age and experience.
This play makes inventive use of the space at Greenside. There is no set or props to speak of, save for a simply knitted doll for each actress. Scene changes and mood are conveyed through seamlessly choreographed movement and dance. It is debatable whether there is much that is original or edgy in either the story or the style of the production. Nevertheless, both are beautiful and executed flawlessly. This is straightforward storytelling that showcases the abilities of young actors on the Fringe and is worth seeing for that alone.