Mine is an intense roller-coaster ride, following a mother going through the five stages of grief at the knowledge of her son’s horrific crime: denial when the police visit, anger when they question her, bargaining when she meets her son in a cell, depression when she is faced with the gravity of his act, and finally acceptance, that he is hers, after all.
Maisie Barlow delivers a strong, convincing performance as the mother of the teenager, suitably proud of him as the story begins. But soon, when the police call and her life begins to unravel, it is clear that all is not right in this household. Barlow holds her own throughout this solo show, flitting between quiet resignation and intense outbursts: “I’m his mother, for God’s sake!” In this small venue, her minimal movements around the tight stage are perfect; they keep the action contained without taking anything away, and the scene where she meets her son in a prison cell, where his “eyes are terrified and on fire all at once”, is an especially standout one.
Along the way, the script does touch upon a lot of background. Barlow’s character is a single mother, and has had no contact with the boy’s father since he was born. There is some mention of school and the boy’s friends, and a brief statement to the press. But none of these sub-plots are elaborated upon. I wanted to consider and explore the son’s motivations and his crime, but playwright Doug Deans leaves those questions open-ended.
The idea might be that each member of the audience can imagine their own worst fear – especially after Barlow, nearly hysterical, screams “I just wish he had murdered somebody”. But the technique didn’t work for me. Based on the programme blurb alone, I’d been intrigued by the nature of the crime before the show even began; I found the lack of closure disappointing.
In spite of that, this is a well-knit and well-performed show about one of the deepest bonds in everyone’s life – that of a mother and child. On for just a couple more days at this Fringe, it is well worth a watch.