MISS Yesterday began life in 2004 as one of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays for young people at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

However, York Settlement co-directors Graham Sanderson and Sue Skirrow were not alone in believing this funny, serious, sad yet uplifting family drama always warranted a broader audience, and on the evidence of Friday night’s teens and adults of various ages, their hunch has proved correct.

Miss Yesterday revolves around growing up, and Friday’s audience would either be experiencing those growing pains like the play’s 15-year-old protagonist, Tammy Laidlaw, or going back in time in their head to replay those days.

Turning back the clock is at the heart of Ayckbourn’s “What If?” tale, as troubled Tammy (Settlement debutant Lucy May Orange) contemplates how life in your teens can be tough, unfair, even cruel. Such typical self-absorbed teen thinking – a blinkered focus enhanced by Tammy being the Why Me? narrator in the diarist tradition of Adrian Mole – is suddenly hurled into juddering harsh reality by a family tragedy.

Until now, Tammy had been involved in nothing more dramatic than an encounter with the local police after she and best friend Roz Butcher (Terri-Ann Prendergast) had been caught trying to break into their school to photograph tomorrow’s exam papers.

Burdened with an expectation of achieving nothing, Tammy craves being more like her seemingly perfect brother Ian (Alan Flower), the medical school student with a country cricket trial tomorrow, who in turn feels the burden of everyone expecting him to achieve everything.

And then comes the devastating family news, whereupon Tammy runs off from her well-off, well-meaning parents, plastic surgeon Andrew (Mike Hickman) and crisis management consultant Josie (Helen Wilson), who either seem caring (if you are not Tammy) or overbearing (if you are).

Putting as much distance as she can between herself and her life, Tammy encounters The Stranger (Beryl Nairn) on a park bench, and by means of magic that are denied to us in real life, she is given the chance to travel back 24 hours to rectify matters.

This forms the more humorous second half, a replay in structure of the darker first half, wherein Tammy now seeks to change the course of the day.

The humour initially comes from Tammy and the audience knowing more than everyone else but master playwright Ayckbourn stays one step further ahead on Tammy’s time-travelling journey to self-discovery to throw up further surprises .

Lucy May Orange, 19, handles both the running commentary and her character’s teen complexities and contradictions superbly well; Terri-Ann Prendergast is an ideal comic foil; Flower’s Ian, the subject of their mutual adulation, makes him both idealised yet real.

While Wilson and Hickman play on their on their roles being caricatures; Nairn’s Stranger adds intrigue and Vivienne Clare and Lee Starkey’s assorted authority figures contribute to the enjoyment of a magical and moving play. The lack of uniformity of accents in the Laidlaw family only serves to make them more universal.

Miss Yesterday, York Settlement Community Players, The Studio, York Theatre Royal, until March 17, 7.45pm and 2pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk