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Review of Emmerdale writer Karin Young’s new comedy The Awkward Squad, starring Charlie Hardwick of the ITV soap

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In Karin Young’s The Awkward Squad, the Emmerdale writer reflects provocatively on the role of women in society.

Through biting exchanges between three generations of women, the plot explores how much – or how little – society has changed over the years.

Set in a small northern town where the neighbours know everything about everyone, it focuses on politically active Lorna and her two daughters and one granddaughter over one night when failures and insecurities unravel.

Lorna, played by a made-down Barbara Marten, is out of answers when her daughters admit to being either jobless or divorced and homeless.

Lorna, a tireless campaigner who fought for the miners during the 1980s strike, nearly gives in to a 30 year pile of ironing when her hard work appears to have amounted to nothing.

But when news leaks that the community centre she runs is doomed to face the council’s axe, she spots a glimmer of hope in an otherwise terrible evening. Inspired by a travesty to protest against, she gives her daughters a cause to live for and her granddaughter a purpose far more meaningful than the perfect wedding pictures.

Planted firmly between past and future, the play leaves us with a sense that history is about to repeat itself. Is life really all that different from the Thatcher era?

* The Awkward Squad is at the Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street, WC2, until Saturday, April 7 2012

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