Freak at Theatre503
One among many reflections on feminine sexuality that Freak inspires begins at the outset, with the cast reading the lyrics of hit songs by female pop stars. For those who wouldn’t necessarily have listened to these radio-friendly earworms closely enough to notice previously, it’s quite a shocking revelation to hear the acts that are actually being alluded to within them.
That musical device is very apt here, as attitudes in the age of Rihanna are the order of the day. Issues are explored through the tales of two women at opposite sides of Theatre503’s stage, and opposite ends of their respective young adulthoods. 30-year-old Georgie (played by Lia Burge) is drowning her break-up sorrows with cheap wine, and 15-year-old Leah (April Hughes), is starting to feel the first desires – and the first external pressures – that accompany sexual awakening.
Writer Anna Jordan has touched upon some of the themes at play here before, and her meditations have resulted in a study leant considerable power by the authenticity of the characters given voice. As with the excellent Chicken Shop, there is a universal quality to the writing in Freak, which means audiences will find much to identify with. This effect is boosted by solid turns from the cast of two.
While minimalistic staging and a script delivered largely in monologue, without anyone to launch off, are perhaps barriers to delivery of a marquee performance, both actors do very well. As Leah, Hughes embodies the giddy excitement and nervous confusion heralded by those first “grown-up” feelings, delivering some sweetly funny lines with comic precision. Burge’s Georgie contrasts this with a brooding cynicism and a palpably burgeoning confidence, through which we journey to the dark heart of the play.
At little over an hour long, the piece is extremely well-paced. From the establishment of two very believable characters, through a neat reveal of their personal connection, to a fulfilling resolution, it’s hard to identify a single piece of fat that could be trimmed from an excellent play that rattles along in breathlessly entertaining fashion.
Freak is on at Theatre503 until 27th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.