Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Heads, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock.
Cordelia and Andrew are the head girl and boy of a well-to-do fee-paying school, and both have very different approaches to the role. Cordelia’s determined to do well, and is interviewing a boy in the school who has cancer in order to win a feature-writing contest and get an internship at the Telegraph. She’s not that bothered about “Leukaemia David”, of course, but it all looks good on the UCAS form. Cordelia is a rebel; everyone at this school goes to Cambridge, but she’s applying to Oxford.
Dapper but goofy Andrew’s having none of it. These are ceremonial roles, he says, “like being the Queen or an MP”. You just have to turn up, don’t bother trying to change anything. “You’ve done nothing family newsletter-worthy at all,” complains Cordelia in response. But when he tells her about their classmate Issy and her affair with a teacher, she has the scent: ‘Leukaemia David’ is ditched and her expose of Issy is the new means of winning that internship.
Created by students from the City of London School, the suspicion is that the cast might be intimately familiar with this world. If so, it only adds another layer of understanding and credibility to this confident evocation of a world we rarely see in art. The three performances are slightly hesitant, but strong enough that they carry our belief and the plentiful number of jokes in the script.
Meanwhile writer-directors Leo Reich and Adam Husain have created a piece which isn’t just funny in a biting Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong kind of way, but rich with a sense of self-awareness. These characters pit hothoused, merciless ambition against complacent generational entitlement, a crack of light through to their souls only appearing with Cordelia’s phone call to her mother in which she’s dismissed without a second thought.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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