Spur of the Moment, Royal Court, London

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The Independent Culture

When Christopher Hampton wrote When Did You Last See My Mother?, a painfully raw study of adolescent sexuality, in 1964, he became the youngest playwright in the history of the Royal Court and the West End.

Nowadays, the Royal Court is stiff with young dramatists charting their own dysfunctional families and personal crises with all the bravura of a generation for whom the stage doors have been thrown wide open.

Anya Reiss is the latest new name to have come through the Court's Young Writers Programme. She was just 17 when she wrote Spur of the Moment and the piece has a disarming, almost embarrassing, quality of utter authenticity and middle-class breast-beating.

In an unspecified location, in a split-level suburban house, Dad has lost his job after having an affair with the (female) boss and Mum is making him pay for it. The house has been re-mortgaged and a young lodger, Daniel, installed. Daniel is 20, and his bedroom is right across the hall-way from 12-year-old Delilah's. Buoyed up on the peer pressure of her three friends, Delilah develops a crush on Daniel that becomes complicated when his girlfriend comes to stay.

The director Jeremy Herrin, who produced the defining play of this latest new wave, Polly Stenham's That Face, allows Reiss her full head of steam in the choppiness of the dialogue and the adolescent angst experienced by Delilah, played with spooky assurance and a hot flush of confusion at her own awakening sexuality (she's about to be 13) by Shannon Tarbet.

It's domestic claustrophobia that pushes her over the edge, but nothing terrible really happens, though it's something of a surprise that her parents (Sharon Small and Kevin Doyle) seem immune to the possibility. In the one long speech in the play, James McArdle's Daniel reveals what a loser he is, too: what on earth does he think he's doing?

To 14 August (020 7565 5000)