How to Be a Kid (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

How to Be a Kid

credit: Brian Roberts

Excellent new writing from Paines Plough which sensitively tackles mental health

Molly is only twelve, but she's had to do a lot of growing up. Since Nan died, her mum has been in a depression so paralysing that she's been unable to do anything, and it's fallen to Molly to look after household chores; particularly feeding her 6-year-old brother Joe and getting him ready for school. This can't go on forever, though, and eventually Molly is taken into care while Joe is sent to live with his father, giving mum a chance to get well.

It's difficult to imagine any play about such a serious and sad subject turning out half as fun as How to Be a Kid, but Sarah McDonald-Hughes' script owes its lightness of touch to the fact it never leaves the perspective of our little hero Molly. Katie Elin-Salt channels a wide-eyed but matter-of-fact exuberance into the character, dancing to Taylor Swift with a new friend at the care home, while Hasan Dixon's Joe is fun-loving and easily distracted, and Sally Messham's supporting cast includes the warm and encouraging spirit of Nan.

It's an action-packed, uplifting piece about the value of imagination and what makes a strong family, and its explanation of mental illness for a young audience is perfectly, sensitively pitched.

Roundabout @ Summerhall, until 20 Aug, 10.45am, £7–£10 (£5–£8).

How to Be a Kid

  • 4 stars

Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre Molly cooks. Molly does the dishes. Molly gets her little brother Joe ready for school. Molly is only 12, but she doesn't feel much like a kid anymore. Now Molly's mum is feeling better, maybe things will get back to normal. Can you help Molly learn how to be a kid…