THIS is a play that lulls you into a false sense of security at first. Anna, a funny and engaging teenager, has brought home a lad she met at a party. Her mum walks in on them unexpectedly and cue an outbreak of awkwardness and embarrassment on the part of the two teens.
But Kendall Feaver's Bruntwood prize winning play is about far much more than inter generational conflict. It shines a light on the difficult and painful subject of mental illness and in these times when so many theatres play it safe, I applaud the RET for bringing this piece, a past winner of the RET's Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, to the stage.
Anna has been living with a mental health issues since the age of just 11 and is now on the cusp of adulthood. While she can be seen as manipulative, for me this eye opener of a play is more about her taking back control of her life. A life that's previously been ruled by her mum Renee - a highly credible performance by former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh - and several years of medication and its associated and often debilitating side effects.
While Hesmondhalgh again impresses as a parent at the end of her tether, the performance of the evening comes from Norah Lopez Holden as the often tormented Anna. Her character's pain and inner turmoil is a little too real at times and great things surely await for a phenomenally gifted actress who really does put body and soul into her latest role.
I hope the subject matter doesn't deter people from booking tickets for The Almighty Sometimes. While there's nothing wrong with going to the theatre to be entertained, the medium is, in my view, at its most exciting when it challenges us and drags us out of our comfort zone.
But despair not, this isn't a misery fest and we're treated to a sizeable helping of humour, the best of which comes courtesy the early exchanges between Anna and Oliver (Mike Noble), a simple soul with a difficult home life. A must see.
* Until February 24. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****