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Review: Carey Mulligan is stunning in Girls and Boys, Royal Court Theatre

Carey Mulligan's performance is a tour de force, precise, subtle and complex.

Carey Mulligan has a twinkle in her eye. She stands at the front of the stage, hands in pockets, telling the story of how she met her future husband with the precise timing of stand up comic.

Her unnamed character is bright and sassy, she's decided to break out of the shallow fug of drink, drugs and casual sex and take herself wherever in the world the pin in a map lands.

carey mulligan girls and boys royal court marc brennerIt is on these travels that she spots a man in a queue at the airport whom she takes an instant dislike to.

When the back drop lifts to reveal a modern, smart living room and kitchen Carey Mulligan slips effortlessly into the role of harassed, working mother trying to look after two small children.

You don't need them there for her to convince you that they are, you can almost hear their voices when she negotiates with them.

We'll return to this domestic scene at intervals, always her with her children.

When the backdrop returns she fills in the gaps about her life outside her children, her flourishing career and relationship with her husband.

But this isn't a story of meet, fall in love, get married, have kids. Neither is it story of growing up or of following your dream. Well it is, it is all of those things but there is more to it than that.

Dennis Kelly's play has a dark underbelly and I for one didn't see it coming.

When Carey Mulligan plants the first flag to indicate where this is going, it's with a lightness of tone that belies what is going on behind her eyes.

The play then becomes a mystery unravelling, your mind jumping on every possible clue. Then the revelation comes.

Girls and Boys is gripping and unexpected. Carey Mulligan's performance is a tour de force, precise, subtle and complex. She fixes you into the story as surely as someone down the pub would with an, at first, amusing tale.

It is one of those plays that when I left the theatre it felt like I hadn't been properly breathing for 90 minutes. I'm giving it five stars.

All dates are sold out except for Mondays when you can buy  tickets on the day at 9am for £12 or you could try for returns.  Catch it at the Royal Court until March 17.