Monday, April 22

Sleepover – Unity Theatre

This is my first sleepover. I am 54 and sitting on a bed in Kelly house, reading Just Seventeen and drinking Malibu, while four teenage female friends laugh, gossip, talk crushes & nipple hair, improvise dance routines & do a bit of karaoke – as well as snog some of their posters.

This is All Things Considered’s delightful, nostalgia-fest, a 90-minute interactive celebration of friendship, sisterhood & all things teenage girl in the 1990s – a heady time where New Kids on the Block, White Musk perfume & Regal ciggies reigned. The audience (13 women & one privileged young bloke) are escorted to beds encircling the action on arrival by the cast; we’re immediately engaged in conversation & faced with a torrent of excitable questions – and from there things become even more immersive & intimate, as we’re given booze and encouraged to share our stories about first kisses.

The sourcing of artefacts – old novels, cameras, phones, mags et al – is meticulous & we are transported back easily to a giddy time where the pain of first love and callous rejection, awkward sexual encounters & puking after too much alcohol will never be forgotten.

The four talented young actresses are focussed throughout not just on the quality of their performances (they pump out so much energy, they could power the stage lights) but on the audience, drawing us into their secret-sharing, dare games (I ended up being compelled to down my Malibu in one & to call their crush’s irate dad), singing, bust-improving exercises (!) & conversations –  with the cast remembering all our names, stories & proclivities.

The evocation of the time and the teen norms of 1990 sent most of the audience into guffaws of recognition & women could be heard regularly to whisper, ‘I remember that!’ and ‘You did that!’ – and the sexy bits from a Judy Blume novel were clearly headily recalled by one bed full of middle aged women.

By the end, the whole audience had agreed to do one outrageous thing before their next birthday & had bonded – looking like they were eager to continue lounging on the beds, necking their Mad Dog 20/20 & swapping stories about misspent youth and naughty adventures.

This is a confection of a show that bubbles along merrily & energetically for 90 minutes (with darker themes playing around the edges at times) and ending on an almost-tableau, as the girls imagine their future ideal lives and vow to be friends forever, as Eternal Flame plays over the scene. I got quite teary – and it wasn’t the Malibu, honest.

You’ll leave the performance (if you can get a ticket; it’s almost sold out) reflecting on who you were & who’ve you’ve become – and what a sweet & innocent way to reconnect & interact with others this is. You’ll exit smiling.

Reviewer: Tracy Ryan

Reviewed: 28th July 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★