Preview: Afterbirth, Arcola Theatre, London E8

Harrowing story of tough love
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The Independent Culture

Set on a north-London housing estate, Afterbirth is the story of 14-year-old Baz, who has returned from a care home to look after his baby brother and heal family rifts, but, despite his good intentions, gets caught up in a world of drug abuse, paedophilia, rape, inequality and domestic violence, with little hope of escape.

Why the title Afterbirth? "It represents all the debris left behind after birth," Florez says. "Baz has to wade through a lot of stuff to break through it and heal family problems. It is about the nature of trust and fear and thwarted love."

Florez is part of Channel 4's Futures Perfect scheme. In 2001, he was invited into the Royal Court's Young Writers Programme. His short play Mean Steel (2001) was produced at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in collaboration with BBC Fiction, and in March this year he had a reading of his one-act play, 100% Bullet Proof, at the Soho Theatre, in collaboration with the Liverpool Everyman.

What does Afterbirth confront? "I wrote this play because I wanted to tackle the subject of child prostitution convincingly and truthfully, in an unapologetic and unflinching way," Florez says. "I want to write work that's going to blow you away."

The play, which stars Paul Moriarty (EastEnders, A Touch of Frost), is directed by Deborah Paige, a champion of new writing. Her directing highlights include the transfer of Brassed Off from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (where she was artistic director) to the National Theatre.

"I believe I have something really special in my hands - a play which cries out to be performed, by a young writer with a truly original voice. Afterbirth is the sort of script that dares you to be both brave and truthful," Paige says.

14 September to 1 October (020-7503 1646; www.arcolatheatre.com)

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