Written by Jane Upton
Performed by Joe Doherty
Unity Theatre
Saturday 27th October 2012

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Written by Jane Upton and set in Nottingham in 1998, at only 45 minutes from start to finish the play is a one-man triumph which serves to highlight the plight of a young man who is the victim of his own environment. As the audience take their seats the stage is already set – dismal, dark and depressing – with just the metal of boarded up housing and the glow of a streetlight. The set stays as such when Mark, played by the wonderful Joe Doherty, enters; he is nineteen and trapped in a cycle of disadvantage, stuck in a deprived life as the only carer of his mother and her baby.

As he tells us about his mother it becomes clear she has been a victim of abuse and is struggling with drug and alcohol issues, his baby sister becomes the focus of his anguish as he ponders over how best to get rid of this child. Through his childhood memories of spending time with his granddad, we can see what he remembers is the horrific sexual abuse his granddad inflicted on his mother, made all the more harrowing to the audience as it is told as a child’s memory.

As the story gathers pace Doherty perfectly plays the troubled youth, we see glimpses of the man he could be given the chance, a description of his sister looking at him when he picks her up was heartbreaking, but all too brief as he is dragged back to his reality. The climax of the play was shocking and left us talking about it the whole way home. Even now, two days later the play is still on my mind. It was uncomfortable to watch in parts, harrowing and perhaps a bit to ‘real’ for me, both upsetting and heart-breaking, but overall it was wonderfully written, gritty and above all else, extremely powerful and though provoking.

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