Jess Walters' new play, commissioned by the Rep for performance to young audiences in community venues, gives a taste of contemporary street culture and sexual mores.
Showing commendable dedication, the author spent a term as a Year 9 pupil at a London comprehensive to ensure that cultural attitudes and street language were accurately reflected. The play text comes with an extensive glossary that includes, for example, seven alternative words for vagina.
Three teenage girls hang out in a run-down North London playground. Missy is the most precocious, Tin Tin the most naive. They have tremendous vitality but limited life-options, particularly when it comes to their male contemporaries.
There is Panda, a knife-wielding drug abuser with a spurious glamour in the girls? eyes, gauche Anthony and withdrawn Tyler, a refugee from domestic violence in Birmingham.
If there is one theme that emerges from the play, it is how the girls are let down by male immaturity and their own limited expectations. At the end of the play Missy has a baby and the adult world is closing in, with the prospect of the cycle being endlessly repeated.
It sounds dour, but the play is redeemed by the girls? energy and optimism. It is very well acted by its young cast, though I would have welcomed a slightly less shrieky style of delivery and for the first 15 minutes surtitles would have been useful.
Cassie Joseph is particularly powerful as Missy, but for me the most winning performance comes from Azuka Oforka. Let out of drama school early to play Tin Tin, she has created a believable character of bumptious, heart-melting charm.
Running time: One hour, 15 minutes ( no interval). Until Saturday.