Dark Vanilla Jungle
Powerfully unsettling story of a girl's descent into horror
This article is from 2013.
Fifteen-year-old Andrea has been failed by the people she trusts most: her parents, her best friend, her first love. She, too, has done terrible things – but she's not ashamed.
This one-woman show is a furious story about a girl condemned to society's dirtiest, most forgotten corners, and the effect that her deteriorating life has on her psyche. But what makes Andrea herself so interesting is that she's no down-on-her-luck Annie: she's vulnerable and abused, yes, but – or perhaps as a result – she can also be funny, offensive, sick and even, at times, culpable. She's difficult to like, and harder to understand.
Philip Ridley's complex and disturbing script would be too much for a lesser actor, but Gemma Whelan (unrecognisable from her recent role in Game of Thrones) is astonishing. She has absolute command of time – flitting between childhood recollection, trauma-as-it-happens and sudden rage – and mesmerising ownership of her character. It is a stunning performance. Don't see this show expecting to feel sorry for a poor abused schoolgirl: it's a lurid, thoroughly unsettling horror story, told with breathtaking power.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 26 Aug (not 13), 3pm, £10–£11 (£8.50–£10).