“You’re not good. You’re stained. But you’re mine”. One night, the police show up at a mother’s door. She knows it. He’s dead…. Until the police tell her he’s not. Her son, who she thinks she knows so well, has been arrested. What for? We don’t know. We just know he hasn’t killed anyone, as the mother proclaims it would have been better if he had – one less person to be caused distress by what he’s done. In this one-woman show, Maisie Barlow tells a poignant tale about when the one person you thought you knew, betrays your trust and does something unthinkable.
Besides from a black chair, the stage is bare, leaving just a mother and a story to be told. Barlow wears blue jeans, a white t-shirt and loose grey cardigan, which she wraps around her during moments of uncertainty. Barlow has a talent of speaking incredibly quickly (at some moments), yet managing to make each word crystal clear. She speaks against a subtle soundscape; the pitter-patter of the rain outside.
The effectiveness of Barlow’s performance is evident with the ease of imagining the other characters in the space despite not physically being there. Whether it be her son on the other side of a locked door or the people she is joined with in a support group, we know they’re there and her skills allow us to feel them in the space as much as she can. At times, she even takes on the different personas. She doesn’t fully impersonate, but rather just takes on an aspect of their character. Her range of accents allows her to paint a picture of the people she interacts with, whilst still keep her own character’s inner gestures and underlying expressions, acting as a constant reminder that this is who she is.
More often than not, simple storytelling is the most effective, and writer Doug Deans has done just that: written a simple story, told in chronological order. It is the mystery of the story, combined with Barlow’s performance, which keeps us intrigued. We want to know what this seventeen-year-old boy has done, which Deans uses as a tool for us to hear the other side of the story. The side that we would probably think about last. Director, Thomas Carter, finds the natural balance in the performance; screeching, for example, is often unbearable and usually unnecessary, yet Barlow’s screams and cries explode so naturally that they far from ruin the moment, and completely heighten the emotional intensity.
Mine is playing at The Space at Jury’s Inn until 13 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.