A quiet and heartbreaking tale about childhood friendship against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty. Maggie Kelly reviews Bobby & Amy:

Amy’s father died last year. Her mother’s remarrying a man who takes far too much interest in 13-year-old Amy (Kimberly Jarvis) herself. Bobby (Will Howard) is on the spectrum, bullied at school and comes home to a mother who tries to hide her bruises so as not to scare him.

In a small Cotswold town, the duo spend their time hiding from the three Mean Girls of the rural community and trying not to rub Kevin up the wrong way.

Bobby & Amy become friends.

Bobby & Amy Pleasance Courtyard

The beauty in Emily Jenkins’ script is in the combination of simplicity and complexity. Everything is from a 13 year-old’s perspective, a perspective that prioritises mud and the quality of the light over words like ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease. Everything is hinted at but nothing explicitly said – domestic abuse, sexual violence, even suicide are all dealt with through the quiet and observant eyes of the kids, faced with a big world full of words and people that they don’t necessarily understand.

Bobby & Amy marries nostalgia with a sense of alien danger, watching skulls burn in a huge bonfire and an atmosphere of cloudy, dark foreboding lightened with witty sparks of tamagotchis and breaking voices

Bobby & Amy Pleasance Courtyard

Jarvis and Howard are outstanding in the title roles. Jenkins gives them nothing to hide behind, no crutch of props or costume. Bobby & Amy is reliant on the multi-rolling of the two actors. Its movement structure is akin to that of a dance – Jarvis and Howard twist in and out of character on acompletely bare stage, swapping accents, posture, physicality within milliseconds. While there is a danger these might run into stereotype, there is enough humour and delicate empathy within the portrayals that means the audience swallows them hook, line and sinker.

Will Howard & Kimberley Jarvis

Bobby and Amy is quiet, tactile and all-engrossing. It’s a small story about a town full of kind, despicable and bonkers people who pull together in the face of disaster, forced to look back at a seemingly idyllic past and change for an uncertain future.

★★★★★

Bobby & Amy played at Pleasance Courtyard. For more information, please visit the festival website.