Review: Child stars and showbiz neglect in We Need To Talk About Bobby (Off EastEnders), King's Head Theatre
...it is at times an uncomfortable watch, it's also an angry watch as adults flounder and fail.
The showbiz world is littered with examples of child actors who've gone off the rails and here Paperback Theatre examines the relationship between twelve-year-old Annie (Tara Groves), her parents and those she works with as she is thrust into the limelight in a TV series with rather gritty storylines.
It is a world where Annie is treated like an adult rather than a kid and her parents are increasingly out of their depth as her fame grows.
Sophie Portway and George Attwell Gerhards play her parents and also those she works with so that with the removal of a pair of glasses, we switch from a scene 'on set' between actors playing parent and child to parent and child.
At first, there is a safe distance between the two but the lines begin to blur with damaging consequences.
As Annie's age and inexperience in the grown-up world are increasingly overlooked and her character's storylines get darker, her parents struggle to cope with the growing attention her fame is gathering and her subsequent behaviour.
Annie may not be suffering the physical and sexual abuse of the character she portrays but there is abuse in the neglect she experiences and the emotional distress she suffers as a result.
Sophie Portway and George Attwell Gerhards also give slick performances switching between characters seamlessly and in a way that powerfully blends Annie's work/life situation.
We Need to Talk About Bobby (Off EastEnders) is a punchy 65 minutes that doesn't put showbiz or parenting in a good light. It is at times an uncomfortable watch, it's also an angry watch as adults flounder and fail.
It has had a very short run (two performances) at the King's Head following a successful stint at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and I really hope it gets picked up for a full production.