Review: James Graham's The Angry Brigade, Watford Palace Theatre
Review: Macabre comedy Grand Guignol, Southwark Playhouse

Review: Fringe First winner Spine, Soho Theatre

Spine 007, Ed Fringe 2014, courtesy Richard Davenport
Rosie Wyatt as Amy in Spine, Soho Theatre. Photo by Richard Davenport

Clara Brennan's 2014 Fringe First winning Spine makes a nice companion piece to James Graham's The Angry Brigade both touching on the issue of disaffected youth.

In execution the two are very different. Spine is a 65 minute monologue by teenager Amy (Rosie Wyatt) about her unlikely friendship with old lady and book-hoarder Mrs Glenda.

Brilliantly performed, Wyatt switches between Amy and Mrs Glenda to tell the story. It begins with the teenager, whose family is forced to scavenge from the tip to make ends meet, turning up on Mrs Glenda's doorstep with a black eye and blood down her front having seen an advert for a room to rent.

Mrs Glenda is not shy of airing her opinions but is non-judgemental when it comes to Amy. She quickly disarms the sometimes bolshie teen and before Amy realises what she is doing, spills the beans on events that led her to the old lady's doorstep.

It is a funny and sad tale of young woman who knows better and tries to do the right thing but lets her emotions and circumstance get in the way. Mrs Glenda it turns out is a rebel in her own way. She has a strong sense of justice and a just society and channels Amy's frustration, anger and sense of personal injustice into something more constructive.

Spine is at one end of the scale about the power of friendship while simultaneously serving as a wider metaphor for stopping the rot of society. In having an unwavering hope and confidence in Amy, Mrs Glenda entrusts the future, a future her husband fought for in the war, to the next generation.  Like The Angry Brigade it is a kind of call to arms.

It is a superb piece of writing by Brennan who manages to be warm, witty, engaging and gently provocative. It sheds just a glimmer of light into the dark realities of today's society but does it in a way that is fresh, contemporary and urgent.Wyatt's performance is such that it feels like she deserves a separate credit for Mrs Glenda. They are two characters you want to spend more time with.

Probably one of the best pieces of solo-performed writing I've seen, it runs at the Soho Theatre until November 2.


Rosie Wyatt was in One Man Two Guvnors written by Richard Bean who also wrote Great Britain in which Billie Piper played the lead and she of course kidnapped Mr W in the Playhouse Presents drama Foxtrot.