White Bear Theatre, London – until 25 March 2017
Jack Thorne is one of Britain’s hottest writers, who has managed to move seamlessly between stage and screen, his most well known work is the latest Harry Potter installment Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Channel 4’s recent drama National Treaure. This monologue cements why with a fantastic performance from Catherine Lamb as Katie, an 18-year-old girl juggling friendships, school, parents and UCAS forms.
The production’s prologue of shuffling music is a glimpse into the format of this play. We rarely stay in one place long, whether it is Katie telling us about her parents’ erratic relationship or her own erratic relationship with older and sullen Abe, a young black man who works at the Vauxhall factory in their hometown of Luton.
Whilst Thorne’s writing is a realistic glimpse into being a teenager (perhaps I missed any references but it didn’t seem to be time specific. It could today or twenty years ago) it is Lamb’s performance, which stuns as she plays not only the emotionally insecure Katie but also all the other characters in her life. Physically she reminded me of Anna Friel but there was also something quite rabbit like about her-staring wide eyed into the audience as she justified her approaches to life and the decisions she had made, and often regretted.
As a piece of writing it very much reminded of other young writers such as Andrew Maddock, whilst Maddock focuses on Watford Thorne’s detail of Luton has made me more prepared for the town as any guidebook would be. Thorne doesn’t attempt to resolve the issue Katie faces, she has had them and will continue to have them and this 60-minute piece is a glimpse, though detailed, into her life.
As a production, it makes great use of small number of props and Samuel Miller’s and Lex Kosanke’s stunning lighting and sound design make you forget you are in a small space above a pub. It is also great to see a female focused production with Lucy Curtis and Angela Gasparetto embracing the space and Lucy Miller’s simple bedroom design, which shows that despite turning 18 Katie is still a child at heart.