Written by Allan Williams and directed by Harry Benefield, Spurious explores themes of family and identity through three generations of women falling pregnant at 18, while examining each period’s outlook on young and single motherhood.

The cast present an engaging story with complicated and entirely believable characters.

Williams is quick to establish the main dilemma: Clara (Jamielee Renn) is unmarried and pregnant, and society’s standards push her family to give her daughter Jennifer (Daniella Barnes) to harsh Nelly (Tasha Riley) and her husband, the well-meaning, but ultimately too-nice-for-his-own-good Harry (Elliot Holmes). We are then shown the aftermath of this decision and the impact the adoption has on the family.

It was interesting to see the moments of interaction between the family members, most notably when a young Jennifer goes around asking who her real parents are. This leads to some absurd excuses to get away from the curious child, alongside some good laughs. Barnes herself is exceedingly watchable as we observe Jennifer aging and developing throughout the play - the contrast between her and her outgoing friend Elaine (Georgia Curry) being especially intriguing, as it allows us to imagine what Jennifer would be like had she been brought up by Clara. Renn does a skilled job of evoking sympathy from the audience with this character.

Characterisation from the whole cast was consistent and made for memorable moments. They dealt excellently with having to portray multiple roles, although there was occasionally some initial confusion at the beginning of a scene. Each of the three generations and time periods were set up sufficiently well, making it generally clear to the audience what was going on. A few lines were tripped over here and there, which was distracting, but the cast always recovered quickly.

What hinders the show the most is its outdoor staging; perhaps if there had been better use of projection from the cast it would have worked, but unfortunately the wind led to the audience struggling to pick up a lot of the dialogue, resulting in a lot of powerful moments between characters failing to reach a higher level of impact. Nonetheless, the cast present an engaging story with complicated and entirely believable characters, whose decisions we come to question even after the show.

Reviews by Carmen Dupre

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The Blurb

Based on the true story of a Bristolian family: three generations of women fall pregnant at 18. They and the family will have to make some hard decisions. With so many lies necessary to keep up appearances, will everyone in the family manage to conceal the truth? Touch tours available on request, please email brightonopenairtheatre@gmail.com to book. This project is supported by a Go Think Big Brighton Fringe bursary.