Theatre review: How Is Uncle John?

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Like a female-driven version of the film Taken, but delivered through a duologue rather than high-octane action, this touching two-hander explores the relationship between a mother and her daughter when the latter becomes sex trafficked by an outwardly respectable new boyfriend.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Assembly Hall (Venue 35)

The two women have developed a code: if ever the daughter, Hope, is in trouble all she needs to do is phone and ask for “Uncle John”. So, when her mother receives this call, she instantly knows something is wrong and goes in search of her.

Holly Joyce gives a compelling, believable performance as the mother, who is also dealing with her own demons and has developed a steely core beneath.

As with all plays looking at the abuse of women, there’s a fine line between exploring and simply presenting it – and Naomi Strafford, as Hope, at one point dressed in pants and a strapless bra, which she keeps having to pull up, at times feels like she’s simply doing the latter. Sally Lewis’s script is inspired by real-life stories, but in places it could do with a stronger perspective to avoid feeling voyeuristic. However, as a mother and daughter relationship story, it’s well observed and, ultimately, hopeful.

Until 29 August. Today 3pm.

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