ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS at the BT Studio, Oxford

Sometimes you see a play and you feel bad for the cast because the audience is so small. This is one of those nights; when you wish you could grab people off the street and cram them into this little performance space because this is a story that deserves to be told.

Jane Upton has written a rare, beautiful piece of theatre, concise like a short story. She tells the tale of three young girls, drawn together through necessity. Joanne, played by Tessie Orange-Turner, is the eldest, the leader of the pack – brittle and changeable. She is being manipulated by a group of older men to groom the younger girls for some kind of unspoken but horrible game. Lisa (Sarah Hoare) has managed to escape to a new life with a foster family. She is reluctant to return to Joanne’s circle, but is pulled back to her with a kind of love or Stockholm syndrome that’s hard to escape. The youngest girl is Amy, played by Esther-Grace Button, who is Joanne’s latest protégé. Amy is eager to please, keen for acceptance, and she thinks of Joanne as her best friend, even as the older girl draws her into a dangerous web.

The story is complex – secrets are half-revealed and then hastily covered over; the audience guided into the darkness and then left to draw their own conclusions. The set and costumes are simple, the dialogue raw and realistic. This is perfect modern theatre, unafraid to shy away from difficult conversations about dreadful things going on in the real world.   ★★★★★  @BookingAround   30th March 2017