Having skipped school, 14-year-old Grace is under interrogation. Dad wants to know if she went raving in the woods. Sister Coco suspects she’s hooked up with Javaad. Yes, she eventually tells both – untruthfully, as it happens, but only because they won’t accept anything else.
In fact, she was gaming with Javaad, when he came out to her – a fact she’s promised to keep secret. But a local lad’s been badly beaten up and Grace was unaccounted for at the time. Has she done something awful?
Commissioned to write an accessible prequel to Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ for the Unicorn, playwright EV Crowe instead came up with this piece for 13 to 16-year-olds. Fair play to her; she attacks head on the problem of society’s distrust and demonization of the young. However, ‘Liar Liar’ ends up feeling scrambled, somersaulting between subplots that, though far from contradictory, don’t entirely compliment each other either.
As in Crowe’s homophobia drama ‘Hero’, seen at the Royal Court last year, what starts with real verve gradually ties itself in knots. Blanche McIntyre’s assured direction matches the play’s swagger, but can’t prevent it from flattening out.
Nonetheless, Danusia Samal finds laudable complexity in Grace, who can be spiky, selfless and self-loathing all at once, and James Perkins’s cluttered bedroom design is a real treat. Matt Trueman
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