Set in the late nineties in Barwell, a suburb of Leicester, this excellent (almost one woman) coming of age show written by Alexander Knott perfectly captures both the era and the feelings of teenage angst we can all recall only too well. It was a trip down memory lane for me, with highly relatable family and friends day to day dramas that at the time seemed life or death, set to a classic soundtrack that happens to be retro topical with the Spice Girls current renaissance, alongside other memorable club tracks of the time. This is interspersed with well realised new composition by Sam Heron and James Demaine that encapsulates the mood and setting as we follow Manda’s exploits and relationships.
Zoe Grain, as our protagonist Manda, is funny, moving and highly personable with a Fleabag-esque anecdotal commentary of her life from 1997-2000, ably supported by “them” the talented Lucy Annable and Emily Costello who morph from Greek chorus type shadows of Manda into various other roles, at times miming to Manda’s commentary, at others giving voice to their mostly comic representations of the people in her life.
It is an innovative piece of physical theatre, well directed by Georgia Richardson with a simple yet effective set that, though stylized, has truth and heart at its core and despite running at 70 minutes never once lost our attention.
As the well deserved applause for this inspired piece of new writing died down, artistic director of the venue David Brady told us that their aim with the relaunched venue is to nurture and give a platform to exciting new writing and young theatre companies such as Boxless; if Hedgehog is a benchmark for the standard we can expect from the programme, above a lovely gastropub in leafy Kentish town, I predict the theatre has a bright future. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday
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