Tron Theatre, Glasgow
What eighteen-year-old Katie does in Jack Thorne’s one-woman play is probably not that far from what a lot of small-town schoolgirls do when their older boyfriends get into a fight after his ice-cream gets splattered by a cyclist who he promptly kicks into the middle of the road. Just like the bump and grind rhythms of the r’n’b she flicks through on her phone as the audience enters the Tron’s intimate Changing House space, Katie goes with the flow. Motor-mouthing her way into the back of a stranger’s car en route to a vigilante revenge attack is one thing. Talking herself into what might just be a wake-up call to take her future into her own hands is something else entirely.
In this sense, Paul Brotherston’s revival of a play first seen in Edinburgh almost eight years ago is a quietly life-changing piece of work. As it joy-rides its way around the complexities of multi-cultural Britain, it shows how, in towns like Luton, where the play is set, black, white and Asian communities barely co-exist.
Thorne’s portrait of a neglected corner of broken Britain is a microcosm of collective neuroses, where for a young woman on the verge like Katie, at least, teenage kicks can only go so far. She may be smart enough to congratulate herself every time she uses a big word, but as her wise-cracking eventually runs out of steam, Katie ‘fesses up to be a frightened little girl, out of her depth and staring into the headlights.
Katie is played by Anna Russell-Martin, here making a fearless professional debut that conveys the slowly-dawning realisation that just going along for the ride won’t be an option for long. Whatever happens, it’s what Katie does next that counts.
The Herald, April 2nd 2018