THEATRE / New Voices - Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, SW1

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The Independent Culture
The first part of the Court's Young Writers' Festival (sponsored by Marks & Spencer) is a triple bill of new plays which reveal considerable promise and deal with current issues in widely diverse styles. Faith Over Reason by Sarah Hunter, 19, focuses on domestic violence from a disturbing new angle, illuminating the trauma of teenage batterings. Neatly structured, the play oscillates between scenes in a young women's self- help group and episodes in the disintegration of a relationship. Though in places it does not shake off the stiffness of docu-drama, for the most part the writing is vivid and urgent - a fact celebrated in Burt Caesar's production, in which the girls' relationships are affectionate, volatile and wary. The Changing Reason by Noel MacAoidh, 19, is a dark, poetic and bitterly funny play which explores the disintegrating health of a young man whose father has just died, leaving him with memories of his abused childhood. A great sense of character and place, and a powerful feel for language make this a mature first play, well served by Carl Miller's brooding production. Sab by Michael Cook, 24, offers a complete contrast, with a jaunty and very funny look at life in an ineffectual university hunt sabotage group. Cook hurls together a set of misfit characters, none of whom is prepared for a new arrival: an anarchist from Surrey who sees the 'sab' as an opportunity for class war. Witty and accurate, the play moves fast and deals with serious issues without taking itself too seriously.

To 7 November (071-730 1745).

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