Review: Suhayla El-Bushra’s Cuckoo at the Unicorn Theatre

Eden Howard (Jenny) Kate Lassman-Long (Nadine). Photo Manuel Harlan

Eden Howard (Jenny) Kate Lassman-Long (Nadine). Photo Manuel Harlan

Suhayla El-Bushra’s Pigeons was one of the more interesting offerings of the weekpy rep season at the Royal Court theatre last summer. A playwright with an honest yet playful voice, she taps into the energy of teenage life knocking against an adult world that has lost its way.

Her play Cuckoo, currently playing at the Unicorn theatre, shows many of the same virtues (and establishes an avian theme, as a friend pointed out). The world of Nadine and Jenny, two fifteen year olds with an unlikely friendship, explodes with energy, pathos, desires, disappointment and unspoken needs. The teenage girls struggle to understand themselves but their inner life is lucid and sparkling with possibilities. By contrast, the adults are either absent (Nadine’s mother never shows up) or absent in spirit (Jenny’s mum is confused and confusing. Her liberal ideas reach as far as Africa but don’t open her eyes to her own world). Continue reading