Theatre review: Mine

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Whenever someone commits a senseless act of horrific violence, our sympathies automatically lie with the victims. It’s a natural human response. We also think about their families, and the hell they are going through.

Star rating: ****

Venue: theSpace @ Jury’s Inn

But some of us, with varying degrees of motive, also put ourselves in the shoes of the perpetrator’s family. How must they be feeling? How can you ever come to terms with the knowledge that a loved one has committed an atrocity?

That’s the complex moral conceit behind Mine, a powerful monologue delivered with intensity by actress Maisie Barlow. She plays the mother of a teenage boy whose crime is hinted at obliquely. But the details of the act aren’t as important as her gut-wrenching response, as she reels between feelings of shock, confusion, horror and guilt.

It’s a claustrophobic glimpse into the nightmare world of an ordinary woman struggling behind closed doors with the destruction of her maternal bond.

Initially, she talks about her son as any mother would. She seems proud of him. Her beloved little boy, on the verge of adulthood. But as the play unfolds, she reveals troubling details about him.

We follow her every step of the way, from her initial encounter with the police, to her ordeal in the media and with disgusted members of the public. Eventually, she visits her son in prison. It’s painful, sad, but never histrionic.

Anchored by quietly compassionate writing from Doug Deans and a tremendous performance from Barlow, this is a lingering, sensitive study of oft-forgotten victims.

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