IT isn’t often I find myself wincing with embarrassment when watching a play – but the writing and acting in Quirky Bird’s Spur of the Moment are so well realised that the arguments and put-downs, the shame and awkwardness, have you literally squirming in your chair.

Middle class parents Nick and Vicky (Paul de Boer and Alex Stroud) are at loggerheads because Nick’s had an affair with his boss and the emotional devastation of his infidelity leads to endless spiteful arguments about all sorts of petty irritations. Sometimes it’s so absurd it’s almost funny.

While the parents tear strips of each other, almost-13-year-old Delilah (played by 16-year-old Josie Beer) is planning a birthday party with her friends and eyeing up the 21-year lodger Daniel (Matthew Mordak). But ignored by her parents, the youthful crush begins to turn into something more serious, and dangerous.

Spur of the Moment, which played at the Shoebox Theatre in Swindon from Wednesday to Friday last week, is the funny, fast and brilliantly written debut play by Anya Reiss, who was just 17 when she created it.

She captures the way the family all talk and suffer, but never really listen to each other or clearly say what they mean – just deepening the spiral of insult and isolation. I would cavil at how much the f-word is used, not because it offends me but because when all the characters use it all the time, it ends up being boring.

The scenery is well chosen, with props suggesting each of the three rooms where the action takes place (a chest of drawers with Harry Potter books for Delilah’s bedroom, for example) while a central box is used as a flexible prop, for a living room sofa, or a bed.

The cast is terrific – Stroud and de Boer are entirely convincing as the warring parents and crank up the emotional tension right through the play. Delilah’s young friends, played by Eleanor Shaw, Hannah Grieg and Kianna Grace, bring a much-needed dash of youthful playfulness and levity to the proceedings, reminding us how young Delilah really is.

Mordak is compelling as conflicted and disturbed lodger Dan, while his long-suffering girlfriend Leonie is played with conviction by Joanna Miller.

Finally, Josie Beer is a revelation as young Delilah. It is a difficult role and one she plays with sensitivity and assurance: clearly this is a young actor to look out for in the future.

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- Sarah Singleton