A girls’ boarding school in the 1990s is no Malory Towers. Whilst Mimi learns her lines for John Proctor in the Christmas play, Janey desperately clings on to her best friend status.
E V Crowe’s Royal Court debut play is an intricate and anarchic view of what might go on when ten year olds are away from home.
Director Jeremy Herrin’s recent work includes Spur of the Moment, Off The Endz, The Priory, Tusk Tusk, The Vertical Hour and That Face, all at the Royal Court
Age guidance 14+
Running time: 1hr 10mins approx, no interval
£10 Mondays sponsored by French Wines
Select a Date
Dates in November
|Fri 19 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 20 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 22 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 23 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 24 Nov 2010||7:00pm||Press Night||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 25 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 26 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 27 Nov 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 27 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 29 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 30 Nov 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
Dates in December
|Wed 1 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 2 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 3 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 4 Dec 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 4 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 6 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 7 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 8 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 9 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 10 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 11 Dec 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 11 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 13 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 14 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 15 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 16 Dec 2010||4:00pm||Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 16 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 17 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 18 Dec 2010||4:00pm||Captioned Performance, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15. For captioned seats call 020 7565 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sat 18 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 20 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 21 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 22 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 23 Dec 2010||4:00pm||Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 23 Dec 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
Sold out Performances
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 29 November 2010
EV Crowe, the young dramatist responsible for Kin, a promising and disturbing new play, is unlikely to be invited to present the prizes at her old school should she develop into a major writer in years to come.
I have always had an embarrassing soft spot for the girls’-school stories of Angela Brazil and Enid Blyton, but Crowe’s account of life in such an institution has more in common with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies than the thrilling lacrosse matches and midnight feasts of popular fiction.
Her 10- and 11-year-old girls, enduring life in the school’s junior wing, swear like troopers, and regard anorexia (nicknamed “annie”) as glamorous. They also know all about sex, order a despised classmate to perform a handstand without her knickers on, while the denouement turns on whether one of the girls has given another a love bite.
Of the happy innocence of youth there isn’t the faintest flicker. These girls are cruel when they aren’t miserable, and they can’t even talk honestly to their parents on the payphone because there are always others eavesdropping on their conversations.
In Jeremy Herrin’s production, featuring terrific child actresses who seem every bit as young as the characters they are playing, Kin feels horribly persuasive, though an over-elaborate time scheme makes it unnecessarily difficult to follow the narrative line. And the fact that the children are also rehearsing a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, with its own account of girlhood hysteria, seems a contrivance too many.
Nevertheless Kin has the vigour and detail of vividly recollected experience, and scarily compelling performances from the young cast, with strong adult support from Annette Badland as the weary housemistress, who compares her devious and sometimes savage young charges to “small dogs in packs and pairs, doing what small dogs do”.
If you have a young child at boarding school I would give this play a miss. It could cause you pain, guilt and acute anxiety.
Paul Taylor, Independent, 29 November 2010
Enid Blyton must be gyrating in her grave.
It would be hard to think of anything less like Malory Towers than Kin, EV Crowe’s jolting low-down on life among the 10-year-olds at a girls’ boarding school in the 1990s. Her gym-slipped mites turn the air blue with relentlessly foul-mouthed talk, as though in contention for some David Mamet Memorial Cup.
The competitive bitchiness with which schoolgirls mask vulnerability may boast a long ancestry, but exposure to the heartless values of trashy glossies seems to have given the process an added cooler-than-thou viciousness. One pupil dares another to knock on a male teacher’s door and tell him “you want to do ‘position of the fortnight’ out of More magazine and that you want him to rape you.” In Jeremy Herrin’s witty, bleakly atmospheric production, the shock value is heightened by the fact that these characters are played by girls who are barely older.
The play focuses on the relationship between a pair of dorm-mates. The outwardly tougher Janey (Mimi Keene) persecutes and is possessive about the cleverer but less developed Mimi (Ciara Southwood). So when the latter wins the part of Proctor in a production of The Crucible, Janey jealously retaliates with crass insinuations that rival Nina (Fern Deacon) is Mimi’s “fuck buddy”.
The choice of play reflects the hothouse ambience of gossip and denunciation that suffuses Kin and it allows for some hilarious generation-whatever descriptions of Arthur Miller’s hero. But Crowe’s own distorted mirror of its plot – involving a hysterically prurient teacher and forced confessions – manages to feel both too slight and excessively melodramatic. Where the play shows real talent is in its acute ear for callous school lingo and in the quality of its observation.
A promising Royal Court debut for the author.
Michael Billington, The Guardian, 26 November 2010
The myth of childhood innocence is under sustained attack at the Royal Court. After Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk and Anya Reiss’s Spur of the Moment, we now have a disturbing debut play by EV Crowe that exposes the secret lives of 10-year-olds at a posh boarding school in the 1990s. It is one of the best arguments for state education I have come across.
Crowe’s focus is on Janey and Mimi, who room together and who initially converse in a mixture of school slang and routine obscenity. But it soon becomes clear that Janey, who gets a third girl to perform knickerless handstands and steals her fellow pupils’ private letters, has all the trademarks of the bully. And when Mimi is somewhat improbably cast as John Proctor in The Crucible, there are strong hints that the hysteria among the young girls of 17th-century Salem finds its echo in the hothouse passions of a modern boarding school.
In truth, I find the parallel a bit strained: Miller’s young heroines destroy a community; Crowe’s chiefly inflict damage on themselves. But she writes with alarming insight about the thin dividing line between sadistic bullying and sexual longing, and about the gulf between children and adults. Even if one teacher has a shrewd idea as to what is going on, the school governor, who unexpectedly encounters Mimi in the gents’ loo, seems to cling to Victorian notions of pre-pubescent innocence. As for the parents, periodically contacted by phone, they seem to be either divorced or living abroad.
It all adds up to a chilling portrait of the consequences of isolating children at an impressionable age. Jeremy Herrin’s Theatre Upstairs production and Bunny Christie’s design precisely convey the prison-like nature of a girls’ boarding school. And Mimi Keene as Janey and Ciara Southwood as Mimi, watched over by Annette Badland as a perceptive teacher, are unnervingly good.
Michael Coveny, What’s On Stage, 26 November 2010
Still they come, those promising new playwrights at the Royal Court: EV Crowe is another graduate of the Young Writers Programme who touched a nerve or two in her recent playlet about antagonistic policewomen in Charged, the feminist programme of prison plays at the Soho Theatre.
Here, she charts brand new theatrical territory in the rivalrous friendship of two middle-class ten year-olds in a girls’ boarding school. Janey and Mimi talk drab and dirty to each other in the dorm, parents and teachers at a safe distance, participation looming in a wonderfully inappropriate school production of that masterpiece of infantile hysteria and witch-hunting, The Crucible.
Mimi’s the main, presumably autobiographical, character, with her sad isolation exposed by her “ f—- buddy” Janey, the queue at the telephone to ring home, the surprise encounter with a middle-aged school governor in lavatory (nothing too fishy), and her interview with an off-hand, disillusioned teacher.
Director Jeremy Herrin has polished this little gem to near perfection, and Bunny Christie’s design, lividly lit by Malcolm Rippeth, catches exactly the white-tiled misery of the institution, its corridors and noise outside, its bunk beds and smelly lockers and classrooms.
There are one or two extraordinary coups: Mimi and Janey (Maya Gerber and Madison Lygo) compel the outsider Nina (Ellen Hill) – all three actors, and the three with whom they alternate the roles, are stage debutants – to execute a head-stand with her knickers off (discreetly protected from audience view); and the tuck box thrown out the window lands in the next scene right by the teacher (Annette Badland) in a previous time band. This is young persons’ most personal theatre at its very best.
Wed 24 Nov, 7:00pm
Sat 27 Nov, 4:00pm Sat 4 Dec, 4:00pm Sat 11 Dec, 4:00pm Sat 18 Dec, 4:00pm
Thu 16 Dec, 4:00pm Thu 23 Dec, 4:00pm
Sat 18 Dec, 4:00pm
Wed 22 Dec, 7:30pm