Play for September
The recent case of a teacher running away to France with a female student highlights the difficulties of such relationships, especially the unique bond of trust and duty of care a teacher has with pupils.
In Olivia Hirst’s compelling new Play for September, this delicate and controversial subject is explored with honesty and well-observed insight, set in a comprehensive school at the beginning of a new term in 2003.
It is a persuasive study of two fifteen-year-old girls’ loyalty to each other and their close friendship. They discuss and share everything from schoolwork to boyfriends and comparing crushes on teachers as well as trying to come to terms with the world they live in.
There are impressive performances from Rianna Dearden as Elle and Olivia Hirst as Kay who has fallen in love with the new English teacher Mike Bode (Jim Crago)
Of course Bode should know better but he encourages the relationship with Kay which forces Elle into a dilemma of whether she should tell someone or stay true to her friend and keep quiet.
At times the quick-fired taught dialogue between the girls is explosive, testing their friendship to the limits.
Kay is overwhelmed by the attention and falls in love with Michael who talks about marriage and has even bought an engagement ring and showers her with presents.
When Kay is taken home by Mike he forces himself upon her and although she says, “please don’t” he has sex with her.
This excellent play about the grooming of youngsters resonates strongly and is made even more poignant as it’s based on the writer’s own experience of abuse at school. Gripping and disturbing theatre.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp