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A CurtainUp London London Review
Spur of the Moment

I love you. You have to stay or I'll tell my parents. — Delilah to Daniel
Spur of the Moment
Shannon Tarbet as Delilah and Jamie McArdle as Daniel (Photo: Keith Pattison)
Anya Reiss was only 17 when she wrote Spur of the Moment and the Royal Court, having found young female talent in the shape of Lucy Prebble (The Sugar Syndrome and Enron) and Polly Stenham (That Face and Tusk Tusk), have produced Reiss' play about the 21 year old lodger and the 12 year old girl. The basic premise is that Delilah's (Shannon Tarbet) parents (Sharon Small and Kevin Doyle) are too busy coping with his infidelity with his woman boss, the subsequent loss of his job and money worries to notice the burgeoning romance between the lodger Daniel (James McArdle) and their daughter.

The idea is a good one dealing with underage sex as girls reach puberty earlier and earlier and can be sexually provocative looking way beyond their years. Anya Reiss' scenes with Delilah and her grinning, voyeuristic and nosy friends who chant the lyrics and ape the dance routines of High School Musical (they are in fact at 12 slightly too old for this fan base which is 7, 8, 9) are annoying but would not be out of place in a television writer's script for a teen drama. Two of her friends leer and snoop on the arguments in the Evans' house and ask awkward questions pretending to be innocents at work when they are in fact Jezebels and well aware of the embarrassment they are causing.

The other part of the play which is deeply uncomfortable to watch is the constant sniping between Delilah's parents. Her mother Vicky (Sharon Small) is red raw from the hurt of the affair her rather unattractive husband Nick has had with his boss. He is smirky and crass and has no idea how to heal the rift he has caused. Compounding the betrayal are financial concerns. Where the writing seems to let her down, it is in dealing with Daniel's issues of self harming where the soap operatic melodrama takes over at a superficial level. However as Daniel and Delilah get closer, we realise how vulnerable Delilah is in her wildly unrealistic romantic fantasy as she imagines herself in love with Daniel.

Max Jones' two floor set encompasses realistically the Evans' house and allows for simultaneous playing of parents downstairs and Daniel and Delilah above. I loved the scene in the kitchen when Vicky opens the fridge door and the teenage girls tumble into the house from within the fridge. There is also a promising interaction when all four members of the household attempt to sit down on sofas and watch a Batman movie Dark Knight to a stream of negativity and interruptions from Vicky in this bickering, squabbling marriage.

Anna Reiss has some ideas which translate dramatically but for theatre, her writing will need more invention and better structure but I am sure there is a television market for her work.

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Spur of the Moment
Written by Anya Reiss
Directed by Jeremy Herrin

Starring: Sharon Small, Shannon Tarbet, James McArdle, Kevin Doyle
With: Jordan Loughran, Yasmin Paige, Rosie Day, Aisling Loftus
Design: Max Jones
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth
Sound: Ian Dickinson for Autograph
Running time: One hour 35 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking at the Royal Court to 21st August 2010
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 20th July 2010 performance at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)

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