I have to declare an interest here as the author of this marvellous new piece starred in one of my own plays, but his own claims to fame are not only being an excellent actor and festival organiser, but writer as well.
His play, Sundown, about an unexpected meeting between would-be suicides on Beachy Head was memorably original and deeply touching. Now this multi-talented renaissance man of the theatre has done it again with Taking Chances’ production of Head Girl, a cruel comedy set in a posh girl’s day school where a new girl comes into the orbit of a bitchy packleader and her bootlicking friend.
Rachel Delooze is marvellous as Tamsin, the self-obsessed looker whose preoccupations verge dangerously towards the criminal, while Catherine Keats shows a rare gift for characterisation as the sycophantic Kyla – “Totes!”.
Benjamin Archer is uncannily convincing as the down to earth young male teacher all the girls have a potential crush on. But it’s Leonie Carpenter who steals the show in the marvellous part of the bullies’ victim Billie, the self-reliant new girl who ultimately gets on just by being good at things.
The scene where the over-confident, talentless and megalomaniac girls audition for the part of Juliet in the school Shakespeare production was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a very long time, in a brilliant depiction of the unbalanced psychology of bullying.
Marvellous. New theatre at its very best.
Birmingham Fest runs at a number of venues until July 31. To book tickets for Head Girl which plays until tomorrow (July 27) call 0121 212 2643 or go online at www.blueorangetheatre.co.uk.