HighTide Festival, Walthamstow – until 30 September 2018
With the feral teenage violence of Heathers all snarling and murdering in the West End, and the manic cheerleader energy of Bring It On just finished at Southwark, what more soothing than an hour in a gentler vision of teenage confusion and calf-love? Especially with an onstage duo of two of the author Tallulah Brown’s band, the Trills (formerly Vagabond Trills), punctuating and easing on the mood of the story.
Brown and Serafina D’Arby sing beautifully, and so at one point does Fanta Barrie, playing a stroppy displaced girl with a problem mother who finds herself expelled from her cool Camden-girl London school life. Her look, by the way, is perfect, shorts-over-fishnets-and-scowl, with occasional school shirt defiantly hanging out.
She is dumped with her stern grandmother on the Suffolk coast, which inspired Brown’s last play Sea Fret, and falls in with a geeky but far more grounded schoolfriend (Joe Hurst) who works on his family farm. She’s restlessly defiant, he unimpressed but benign. Her irritable failed seduction – “I thought you were up for it” is bravado, from a generation confused into thinking the only valid contact is sex. His “I am just here to cut the grass” is one of the lines of the year.
But the relationship grows better; he introduces her to the bleak quiet beach where he feels history under his feet, Viking ships never far off. She starts to see what he sees. Events flicker by (it’s a one-hour show) and the music tells the emotional tale as well as anyone could. Nice.