GEMMA Whelan is outstanding in Philip Ridley’s gripping story about a young girl let down by the people around her.
The playwright is well known for his dark subject matter, but Dark Vanilla Jungle is a particularly chilling and all too real exploration of a teenage girl groomed by an older man and led into a cycle of abuse.
With no set and no other characters, it is down to the gritty monologue from 15-year-old Andrea (Whelan) to reveal the true extent of her downfall.
Abandoned by her parents and living with a grandmother she only met aged 12 and calls Mrs Vye, Andrea is desperate for love and attention but goes looking for it in all the wrong places.
Whelan is fantastic, capturing the light and shade of Andrea’s character perfectly as she switches between a sometimes excitable teenager and a hysterical young woman who seems to be slipping into madness.
The story is bleak in its message, vivid in its detail and keeps you riveted throughout the 75 minutes.
The liberal swearing and graphic content may not appeal to everyone and the play is certainly a difficult watch, but Whelan is truly skilled and got a well-deserved rapturous round of applause from the audience at the Salberg Studio on Thursday.