Theatre Review: Who Cares, Summerhall (Venue 26), Edinburgh

Teenager secrets usually revolve around school crushes, friendship drama, and cheating on tests.
4 star4 star
4 star

The young people in Who Cares have a much bigger secret to hide. This play, written and directed by Matt Woodhead, is based on interviews with young carers in Salford. With a rock soundtrack and Woodhead’s dynamic direction, we hear the stories of three young people trying to balance their school and social lives with having to look after family members with disabilities.

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Connor (Luke Grant), Nicole (Lizzie Mounter), and Jade (Jessica Temple) are characterisations of the interviewees, each with their own stories and hardships. The script brilliantly conveys how the stress of home life can manifest itself in many different ways; shyness, aggression, rebellion and more.

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By starting at a point of watching each of them just trying to get through the day, we see how planning for the future can seem impossible when you’re just trying to get through the week without incident, and how much childhood is lost in having to grow up so fast.

The neat and emotive narrative structure is clearly an edited interpretation of the interviews, but the result is an eye-opening and impactful look at the isolated lives of young carers. Verbatim scenes of interviews with people working in social care demonstrate how the system is at breaking point, with fewer disabled people being supported and the danger of young carers going unidentified.

The cast give superb performances as teenagers, politicians and social workers, with Mounter being a stand out for her guarded, aggressive and vulnerable performance as Nicole. It gives the audience a peek into lives that are characterised by isolation and if you didn’t care before, you most certainly will after.

Until 25 August. Today 6:20pm. ****