Anya Reiss was just 17 when she wrote Spur Of The Moment, and you wonder exactly what personal experience she brought to it.
Delilah is a 12-year-old girl whose main preoccupations are High School Musical, keeping up with her friends and forming a crush on her family’s 21-year-old lodger, Daniel. So far, so normal. But Reiss shows how a normal situation can swiftly turn into something altogether more disturbing. Delilah’s parents are so consumed by their marital problems, which they selfishly air in front of their daughter and lodger, that they fail to spot – or stop – Delilah’s crush going a step too far.
What brings drama to the piece is not Delilah’s bold kiss, but Daniel’s reaction to it, which changes from initial incredulity to confusion and, ultimately, something much more concerning. With Daniel’s girlfriend coming to stay and Delilah’s precocious friends fuelling the situation, the illicit threatens to become explicit.
Reiss treads the line between soap opera and reality as she explores this scenario. Many of the scenes – particularly between parents Nick and Vicky – are recognisably rooted in reality, sometimes hilariously so. One particular argument about the washing up that descends into an excruciating scrap over a DVD was certainly played out in my family home. Yet when the couple so blatantly use their lodger as a pawn in their sparring it feels less realistic and more soap opera – you hope.
The point the play makes is that in this modern world, kids are not always childish and adults not always mature, so age and relationships sit uneasily together. At 12, Delilah is viewed as a kid who couldn’t possibly have sexual feelings; at 21, Daniel should know better and yet he shows his own immaturity in not nipping Delilah’s kiss in the bud. Meanwhile, downstairs, the so-called grown-ups are acting more childishly than their daughter, emphasised in one scene when Delilah tries to advise her distraught mother about her marriage.
Among the cast, Sharon Small and Kevin Doyle are effective sparring partners as Vicky and Nick – Doyle’s Nick has obviously taken parenting lessons from Robert Lindsay in My Family – Shannon Tarbet competently shows the mix of annoying girlishness and budding sexuality in Delilah, while James McArdle has the difficult task of making Daniel’s confusion seem understandable.
Of course, it shouldn’t be. Despite her confident advances, Delilah is just 12. But her Blackberry-touting friends – Jordan Loughran, Yasmin Paige and Rosie Day – who seem to have stepped straight out of Mean Girls show that these days being 12 isn’t what it used to be. Then again, maybe I’m just showing my age.