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Little Boy at Union Theatre

Marion Drew for EXTRA! EXTRA!

This is a neatly written coming of age tale which, although deceptively simple in its telling, gives a clean, clear message, which is refreshingly frank and uncomplicated.

Set in the highly protected world of a girls' convent school, four women attending a school reunion remember the turbulences of teenage life, and the individual challenges of living with a dying mother and abusive father, and finding one's way through the minefield of sexual identity and orientation.

The largest figure in the play is the RE teacher Miss Clemson who tries to guide the girls through these difficult years, and she is portrayed by Steph Parry with a degree of sensitivity which is truly moving.

The acting throughout is uniformly excellent. One feels oneself becoming completely drawn in to the dramas that unfold, and it is not hard to identify with these engaging young people.

Victoria Denard in particular, as Michelle/Michael does a fine job of mapping out the journey from self concern to an appreciation of and engagement with broader social issues, nuclear protests especially, under the guidance of her teacher.

The choice of working on a small intimate stage surrounded completely by the audience seated very close by is a brave one, and certainly achieves the effect of drawing us right into the highly emotionally charged world of these four teenage girls. Both writing and acting are as neat and crisp as the origami bird of peace which lies at the heart of this work.

The whole production is beautifully evocative of the 1980s in which it is set, and although given the issues dealt with it could come across as rather tacky, this play in fact has an endearing nostalgic sweetness to it which is certainly worth a night out.

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