Spur of the Moment

ATYP Studio, August 30

Zoe Carides, Felix Williamson and Holly Fraser. Photo: Olivia Martin-McGuire

Zoe Carides, Felix Williamson and Holly Fraser. Photo: Olivia Martin-McGuire

Written by British playwright Anya Reiss when she was just 17, Spur of the Moment premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre a year later in 2010. It’s a remarkably assured, keenly observed play that belies her age and experience.

Set in a suburban, middle-class home, parents Vicki (Zoe Carides) and Nick (Felix Williamson) are at loggerheads, arguing bitterly over anything and everything. Nick, it transpires, has lost his job after having an affair with his boss.

To make ends meet they now have a 21-year old lodger called Daniel (Joshua Brennan). As Vicki and Nick bicker downstairs, they are oblivious to the fact that their nearly 13-year old daughter Delilah is developing a serious crush on Daniel, who isn’t immune to her charms. The potential for disaster feels dangerously real.

Reiss (who was in the audience on opening night) has a keen ear for dialogue and writes just as convincingly for the snarky parents as for Delilah and her giggling, squealing, bitchy, tweenage friends, who are obsessed with High School Music and Harry Potter.

Spur of the Moment is both funny and disquieting. It veers into sitcom at times, Reiss opts for a soft landing at the end, and a couple of scenes feel overwritten, particularly the final one in which the parents dress Delilah down. A scene in which Daniel constantly repeats: “This is the worst thing that I’ve done in my life” also feels a bit overdone, but overall the play rings true.

Fraser Corfield, artistic director of the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), directs a tight production on Adrienn Lord’s detailed, split-level set, which allows you to see into four rooms at once (Daniel’s and Delilah’s bedrooms, the kitchen and lounge).

The production is well acted with the cast doing a pretty good job of the English accents. Williamson plays Nick as weak, comical and rather daggy so the plummy, upper-crust accent he gives him feels a bit incongruous but he maintains our sympathy for the character, as does Carides for the embittered Vicki. It is terrific for the young ATYP cast to be able to work with actors of this calibre.

Fraser captures Delilah’s passion, naivety and headstrong nature and Brennan is convincing as the guilty, angst-ridden Daniel who has his own personal issues. There is strong support from Lucy Coleman as Daniel’s girlfriend and Simone Cheuanghane, Madeleine Clunies-Ross and Antonia Lewin as Delilah’s friends.

It would have been nice to see ATYP perform an Australian play for the major work in their 50th year but this impressive production deserves to find a wide audience that extends beyond young people.

Spur of the Moment runs at the ATYP Studio, The Wharf until September 14

An edited version of this review ran in the Sunday Telegraph on September 8