Review: Birds and Bees

Charlie Josephine’s Birds and Bees captures teenage awkwardness perfectly, in the shadow of a school sexting scandal

“‘Cause us rowdy year tens, we’re not making it any easier for you”

My abiding memory of sex education at my high school is the relief felt as I managed to avoid being the one selected for the banana demonstration exercise. But in today’s altogether more digital age, teenagers are faced with a much more complex entry into the world of relationships, temptation and sex, particularly as they intersect with a deeper understanding of wider societal issues such as identity, mental health, consent and the use and abuse of social media.

It is into this world that Charlie Josephine’s new play Birds and Bees explodes as four students sit through 45 minutes of after-school detention in the aftermath of a sexting scandal. They’ve been tasked with writing a speech to dissuade their classmates from taking or sharing explicit pictures but warring couple Leilah and Aarron are deep in their feelings, neither of them can stand the nerdy Maisy and non-binary Billy seems just too cool to get drawn into all this drama. Continue reading “Review: Birds and Bees”

Review: Chigger Foot Boys, Tara Arts

“We were chosen because we think like Englishmen”

At a moment in British history when the political discourse around the contribution of (at least part of) the immigrant population has never been more highly charged, Patricia Cumper’s Chigger Foot Boys could not be more timely. A largely unheralded part of the British Army in the First World War were the 15,600 men who formed the British West Indies Regiment, volunteers from British colonies who provided invaluable service and yet received despicable treatment.

Cumper is far too canny a writer to make her play – based on meticulous research and inspired by real events – that didactic though. The consequences of colonial attitudes and their prejudices are implicit, threaded through every heartbeat of her five fictional characters but never the sole focus, complicated as they are by the intersection of so many other things like cruel twists of fate and the full spectrum of human nature from its self-sabotaging worst to its soul-searching best, to create the rich fabric of their own narratives.  Continue reading “Review: Chigger Foot Boys, Tara Arts”