Reviews from Paul's pen

Reviews from Paul's pen


Layla's Room

@pubtheatre1 Review by: Paul Towers, 09 November 2016
Layla’s Room by Sabrina Mahfouz
A Theatre Centre production with Shanice Sewell, Alex Stedman and Emma White, directed by Natalie Wilson
Upstairs @ The Western, 09 November 2016

“a beautiful rollercoaster of a teen life.”

In an attempt to get inside the mind of a modern inner city teenage girl author Sabrina Mahfouz trawled through a national survey of a thousand UK teens. The result is Layla’s Room the often exaggerated world of a digital girl growing up in this fast paced, sometimes skewed society of pay gaps, thigh gaps, pop stars, selfies that are Photoshopped and all the angst these produce.
Layla lives with her gay mother, her brother and her mother’s girlfriend in a tower block. The prospect of moving to a ‘normal’ house with just two floors and a garden fills her with dread. As she packs up the last few boxes of her stuff she reflects on the events that lead to this upheaval.
The set, designed by Ele Slade,  is an ambitious geometric wire frame hung with line drawings of the view from the tower block. The floor reflects this Japanese-influenced design and provides an ideal base for the choreographed moves required to move the simple boxes around to make rooms and locations. Credit must also go to sound designer Elena Pena whose unobtrusive background noises easily anchor the various locations and also provide a reinforcement of various plot points.
Shanice Sewell as Layla leads the production as the confused, ambitious but ultimately bullied teen of the title. Alex Stedman plays all the male roles with an assuredness that belies his years and Emma White has her hands full with various female characters that again are a credit to her youth..
Mahfouz’s script is a beautiful rollercoaster of tears, tantrums, comedy and crisis that make up the average teenagers hormonally challenged life.
Layla’s Room is on tour. Full details at

Upstairs at The Western
First published on Western Gazette
and on Pub Theatre Blog