Bird - Royal Exchange Studio

YOUR heart bleeds for Ava, as she craves a stable family life and some maternal love.

A wild child she may be, but she's also very vulnerable, on the cusp of adulthood and about to leave care. She re-unites with her mum, who is reluctant to wipe the slate clean.

The classics have their place and so do the star studded, big budget musicals. However, for me, livetheatre is at its best when it gives a voice to those who are struggling, those left tofend for themselves, at the mercy of characters like the predatory Lee.

Katherine Chandler's play won the 2013 Bruntwoodplaywriting prize and it doesn't take a genius to see why. Chandler has written a sensitive, at times painfully realistic script that makes us care profoundly about what happens to Ava and her friend and soul mate, Tash. Yes, it is an uncomfortable watch at times but theatre should never lose that ability to shock and make you appreciate the life you've got. It's vital live theatre gives a voice to the dispossessed.

Georgina Henshaw and Rosie Sheehy are oh so believable as teens Ava and Tash and the scenes between Ava and her estranged mum Claire areexpertly played by Henshaw and Siwan Morris.

At one hour and five minutes there's plenty of time to talk about this play over a post performance drink and take it from me, you will be. Highly recommended.

* Until June 20. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****