Theatre Review: Spoonface Steinberg

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Spoonface Steinberg ****

Tron, Glasgow

LEE HALL is best known as the scriptwriter on the acclaimed film Billy Elliot, but his radio and stage monologue Spoonface Steinberg deserves at least as much praise. The eponymous, round-faced little Jewish girl has lived with autism and now reflects on her unsuccessful fight against a tenacious cancer. In these days of so much cynical post-modernism, such a subject might be considered mawkish . We should be grateful that Hall took another view.

The young playwright gives us a piece that approaches our seminal fears with sensitivity, simplicity and intelligence. The child’s considerations of her "backwardness", her brilliance with numbers, her parents’ marital travails and her own cancer are, at once, innocent and profound. As Spoonface muses on her love of the most bitter and beautiful operas, or her doctor’s stories of his mother’s survival of the Holocaust, Hall’s text rings unerringly true as the thoughts of a little girl who has one foot in the beginning of her life, and another in the end. Mark Westbrook’s production for the Nomad theatre company is as unpretentious as the play itself, putting nothing in the way of the relationship between the audience and Kirstin McLean’s distinctly Scottish Spoonface. Deeply affecting, her superb performance makes for an unmissable presentation of a modern classic.

Tron, Glasgow, until 26 October, then on tour until 16 November.