Theatre review: The Love I Feel Is Red, Oran Mor, Glasgow

TWO women mourning one young man, recently dead in battle; there's something archetypal about the story told in this latest A Play, And A Pint lunchtime show, co-produced with the Tobacco Factory, Bristol, and written by Sabrina Mahfouz, one of the rising stars of new British playwriting.

Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: Contributed
Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: Contributed

The Love I Feel Is Red | Rating: *** | Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mona arrives at Susan’s door to share her complicated, ambivalent grief at the death of her partner Ty, a gifted young urban free-runner who has died in a fall, and to pass on an unwelcome piece of news; Susan, the bereaved mother, is so submerged in her own passionate mourning – and in her sense of loss over all that she gave up, to raise this boy now gone – that she can hardly hear Mona’s words.

Hide Ad

The outline of Mahfouz’s powerful text takes a while to emerge from Nel Crouch’s production, as Heather William’s Susan conjures up a series of suburban stereotypes before reaching down into the character’s individual story, and Janet Etuk’s Mona struggles at first to avoid a matching series of cliches. Eventually, though, the sheer force of Mahfouz’s writing makes itself felt, as we begin to understand the intense human journeys being undertaken by these two women, both of them interrupted – on vastly different time-scales – by Ty’s charismatic presence, now lost. In that sense, this is a profoundly 21st century take on the image of mourning, in which the bereaved women face not completely devastated lives, but a complex pattern of gains and losses. It’s an uncomfortable message, but a significant one; and well worth hearing, even among a small lunchtime crowd, on a glorious Glasgow spring day.

• Final performance today