‘‘You can shove it up your arse you bunch of knobs.’’ This is Hedgehog, a play that perfectly captures the conflicting emotions that define teenage years. At times the structure crumbles and the story lacks drive, but overall, Boxless Theatre have produced a show that combines dance and monologues with effortless ease.
Entering the theatre, Manda (our main character with 95% of the lines and excellently played by Zoe Grain) dances freely, but moments of stutter show somethings up. The lights go on and she burns herself with straighteners ‘you’d think we’d learn…but we make the same mistakes over and over again.’ Manda goes on to talk about her very popular best friend and it feels as though you’ve heard it all before.
However, Manda’s erratic monologues alongside ‘them’ (played by Lucy Annable and Emily Costello) allows the show to flow in such a way that those uncertain feelings and frustrations are conveyed so smoothly and performed so gracefully that its a real joy to watch.
Hedgehog allows you to relive all the teenage rights of passage; Choosing your friends because of their social worth, first nights out on sticky dance floors, looking at the person you fancy and being convinced they’re laughing at you. The feeling disconnected from your parents.
Yet, as the show progresses and Manda seems to be making progress, it starts to get a bit lost. A rushed moment of fooling around with a boy in the back of his car ends before there’s a chance to feel anything and Manda’s depressive state feels squeezed in rather than deserved.
However, the directing by Georgia Richardson is fantastic and the space is used to full effect. The writing by Alexander Knott is impressive and something to be proud of. More so, Lucy Annable mimes Manda’s Mum incredibly and Emily Costello perfectly plays the bitchy best friend.
Overall the show does immense justice to those strange teenage years filled with uncertainty, elation, depression and love. Set in 1999, the turn of the century doesn’t give Manda the fresh start she’d hoped for, but like a hedgehog, she has swords to spike when attacked and curls up in a ball when sad. Fortunately, in the end she’s good. She’s happy, and you will be too if you spend your evening watching Hedgehog at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre.
Images: Charles Flint