Tansy is a young, compassionate woman, a girl, really, who is devoted to and responsible for the welfare of her special-needs brother, Aidan. She works in a run-down salon to be near his secondary school. Their home life, you can infer, is stressful. Their mother ran off with another man; their father is suffering from clinical depression and spends his days staring at the television.
The play opens with Tansy sprucing up Aidan's hair; he has a date with Kylie, the hottest property at his school. You just know it won't go to plan. As Aidan is about to leave the salon, Viktor enters. Viktor is an ideological Bulgarian (via Dublin, if his accent is anything to go by) shop assistant, angry about pretty much everything. Viktor talks the talk, but scratch the surface and you find another boy, his insecurities shine through. Tansy's chatty manner makes him smile and for brief moments he forgets to take himself seriously.
It transpires that Viktor is dating Aidan's English teacher, we never meet her – but she sounds like a bully, who has no time for Aidan and cares nothing for how he feels when his work is rejected and he is humiliated in front of his peers.
I don't want to spoil the storyline, but Aidan returns to the salon hurt and dejected. Tansy decides to take revenge on his behalf, so she lures his tormentor to the salon with the promise of a free makeover.
The lights go out and we return to the salon with Kylie in the chair, vain, shallow and self-obsessed, boasting about her popularity and 'celebrity' contacts. Tansy just wants Kylie to stop abusing her power. The contrast between the two young women could not be more obvious.
A Special Boy is an entertaining and thought-provoking play. There are some funny moments –Viktor's frequent rants – and a real poignancy as well, watching a young woman, with apparently no life of her own, fighting for justice in her own way. It was well-acted; a couple of fluffed lines didn't cause any problems, the actors recovered immediately. It is on until Saturday and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.