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Review: Danton's Death, National Theatre - Did Danton die a Death?

Review: Spur of the Moment, Jerwood Upstairs

RylCt-Spur-1495-1_1683317c The thing with being a so-called 'young talent' is that age inevitably catches up with you and there are always younger talents waiting to jump in your shoes.

Polly Stenham, who's play That Face was written at 19, first performed at the Royal Court before transferring to the West End when she was just 21  is having her heals nipped by 17-year-old Anya Reiss whose talents have been fostered by the Royal Court's Young Writers programme.

Reiss's play Spur of the Moment about school-girl crushes on student lodgers and warring parents is enjoying a sold out run at the Royal Court's Jerwood Upstairs and gives her the title of the youngest playwright to have a play performed in London.

When Stenham's That Face debuted, Charles Spencer in The Telegraph described it as one of the most astonishing debuts he'd ever seen. Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph gave Spur similar accolades starting his review simply with "My jaw drops."

And I know what he means. The play is incredibly accomplished and well observed by - and I don't mean this to sound patronising but it does - by one so young.

I hope at least the constantly arguing parents, as depicted by the wonderful Sharon Small and Kevin Doyle, aren't something that Reiss has experienced for herself. You see the play does present a family spiraling towards self-destruction.

Dad Nick has has an affair with his boss and been sacked, Mum Vicky is struggling to forgive and the two argue incessantly sparked by the smallest thing in a way only emotionally bruised adults who've known each other in a long time can: 

"Yes I do blame you for everything Nick. I can't fucking stand you."

To help with finances the Evans' have taken in 20-year-old student lodger Daniel (James McArdle) on whom, soon-to-be 13-year old Evans daughter Delilah (Shannon Tarbet) and her gaggle of giggling High School Musical and Harry Potter loving friends have developed a bit of a crush.

*Plot spoilers* But when Delilah kisses Daniel, like the family, the play starts to unravel. It's not that she kisses him, it's that he later kisses her back. Several times. He finds it hard to resist despite battling the part of his brain that is telling him it is wrong.

The problem I have with this bit of plot development is that Daniel's motives are never really explored and we get little of his background. He has a girlfriend of his own age but has he done this before? Is he a paedophile? If not, why is he flattered by a very school-girlish 12-year-old who still wears bows in her hair and goes swimming on her birthday?

If Delilah was portrayed more as a Lolita it might be believable but she isn't. There is something slightly sinister in his actions that isn't in keeping with the character or the play.

Spur of the Moment is good. It is funny, sad and the script ripe and crisp but I didn't quite buy into the story. It is nonetheless an incredible achievement from someone of Reiss' age.

It gets a Rev Stan rating (RSR) of 3.5 out 5.

My friends over at are aggregating reviews and their star ratings. So far it has an average rating of 3.2 out of 5.

I saw That Face at the Duke of York's Theatre and wrote about it over on my vox blog

Picture of cast by Keith Pattinson


Little bit digging on this one: Jeremy Herrin who directed Spur also directed That Face which starred Lindsay Duncan who appeared as the judge in Criminal Justice with little Mr W.