“Oh no I forgot to turn my electric blanket on while I was doing yoga before bed. #FirstWorldProblems” is one of the many contentious tweets that you may have seen. For those of us born into a privileged world, context and perspective mean everything.
This is exactly what Milly Thomas is discussing in her new play A First World Problem, which is a mixture of Lost and Delirious and Skins. Women are still seen as the weaker sex, despite their increasingly pivotal role in society and the workplace. But what goes on in the troubled young minds of these clever women who feel the pressure to be successful and perfect?
Hebe (Milly Thomas) is waiting to find out if she has been accepted to Oxford University. So are her two friends. So is her boyfriend. What if she doesn’t get in? She could kill herself. Or watch her life fall apart. For the girls who ‘shit gold’ this is the one thing money can’t buy.
Most of us can relate to them. The agony of finding out if we would be going to our first choice of university. The tears. The anguish. The grief.
This piece is powerful, combining drama with comedy and I found myself relating to Hebe in more ways than one. Milly Thomas is a fantastic actress and she does have what Hugo describes as ‘a face you want to punch’ for being so smug and yet so perfect.
She’s completely believable as the wise but naive 18 year old struggling with all of the troubles of a young western girl – body image, peer pressure, fear of failure and general self-loathing. You want to hate her for being such a bitch, but you know you’d be her friend because you secretly want to be her.
Kate Craggs is hilarious as Hugo, the drawling posh boyfriend and Miss Broad, while Molly Vevers makes up the trio as hip Steve and pathetic Amelia, who refuses to play the boarding school game and pretend everything’s fine.
The staging is evocative and poetic; the writing sharp, witty and well-observed. Yet despite being such a deep and emotional piece, A First World Problem is laugh out loud funny that makes you think.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes