Young Vic | ★★★☆☆
At just over an hour long, Cuttin’ It is a compact yet ambitious play that takes on the complex issue of female genital mutilation. Our guides through this painful subject are two 15-year-old girls, Muna (Adelayo Adedayo) and Iqra (played by newcomer Tsion Habte), Somali-British schoolgirls who seem to hail from different worlds; Iqra is a timid, hijab-wearing innocent with a thick accent, while Muna, who came to England seven years before Iqra, is all urban swagger, bowling into school late listening to Rihanna. But they come to discover they both share the same horror inflicted on them in childhood.
Both Habte and Adedayo are as funny as they are beguiling as they struggle to express the injustice doled out to them. War and grief has normalised Iqra’s trauma and desensitised her to the cultural practice, whereas Muna, still physically repulsed by the memory of mingled bleach and blood, is propelled by an all-consuming anger.
At times, the play feels too driven by the issue rather than the narrative, and it could do with fewer monologues and more time to enjoy the crackling chemistry between Iqra and Muna. But it’s still a powerful 21st century take on an age-old tragedy that could prosper in schools long after it’s left the theatre.