NATALIE is a problem child, a typically gobby teenager whose been in the care system and is being raised by her big sister, Katie.

Katie puts food on the table and clothes on their backs by indulging in the world’s oldest profession.

Things get really complicated when Katie, who works under the name of Sherica, starts seeing a client who’s known to both of them.

Sherica, by Ian Winterton, is currently playing as part of the Library Theatre’s Re:Play festival and it’s one of the best new plays I’ve seen for a long time.

The characters are as realistic as the performances and the writer manages to make you care about what happens to Natalie and Katie, even though you only spend 70 or so minutes in their company. Natalie might not be an angel, but her sparky personality makes her likeable. You’ll warm to her, I guarantee, thanks to the quality of Winterton’s writing and a fine performance from Nicola Stebbings.

All the performances are first rate, from Ruth Middleton as Katie/Sherica, a woman trying to do her best for her troubled sibling to Will Hutchby as Douglas, the repulsive posh boy who gives Natalie a hard time at school.

If the other plays in the Re:Play festival are as good as this, theatregoers desperate for something a bit different, a bit more edgy than the usual, safe theatrical fare are in for a real treat.

* Repeated at The Lowry on January 19 (Thursday) and January 21 (Saturday). Bookings can be made on 0843 208 6000.

Star rating - ****