Theatre review: Joy Donze: 13 and Not Pregnant | Whore: A Kid’s Play

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: New York-based Squire Lane Theatrical brings two plays to the Fringe which deal ­evocatively with ­adolescent experience.

Joy Donze: 13 and 
Not Pregnant

***

Whore: A Kid’s Play

***

Both Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236)

13 and Not Pregnant is taken verbatim from the journal entries of ­company member Joy Donze. ­Dancing to pop tunes in her messy teenage bedroom, she ­transports us straight back to a time when making the volleyball team and dating the guy you like really are the most important things in the world.

Likeable and spontaneous, Donze captures the sense of being poised between childhood and adolescence, when emotions are painted in ­technicolour and moods vascillate wildly from joy and exuberance to outrage and self-loathing. “I wanna die,” she pouts. “Maybe.”

Relationships shift ­constantly, each bringing a crescendo of ­emotion. Are her friends ­talking to her? Does she fancy Colby, or Danny, or Ritchie? Does she actually know? The ­audience laughs with wry recognition and leaves with a fresh ­admiration for all who ­survive being 13.

Reese Thompson’s Whore - A Kid’s Play brings a ­different perspective on adolescence during the junior high years. Donze is back as Andrea in this three-hander with Erin Margaret Pettigrew as ­some-time best friend Jen and Matthew Bovee as Patrick, their wonderfully gay classmate, who wants to win the Spelling Bee and make it in musical theatre.

But these young people face more serious challenges than the ones in Donze’s journal: irresponsible ­parents, ­homophobia, pressure to conform. Though not well served by its title, the play lifts the lid on the ­contradictory attitudes ­foisted on young people: pressure to have ­sexual ­experiences, but make a mistake and you’ll pay the price, on social media and in small town gossip. Why, asks Andrea with justification, is a girl called a whore, but a boy isn’t?

The second half of the play becomes confusing: we move forward to a time when ­Andrea and Jen are adults, then back to junior high, then forward again. Thompson’s play is strongest when ­capturing the adolescent world: quick-fire dialogue, Britney dance routines, the potent mix of innocence and experience, and the unforgiving nature of the peer group towards anyone who does not conform.

Joy Donze: 13 and Not Pregnant until 26 August. Today 8:50pm.

Whore: A Kid’s Play until 26 August. Today 4:05pm.