Imagine If’s You Forgot the Mince presents a moving descent into an abusive relationship. ‘Love Me Tender’ by Elvis Presley ominously plays as we enter the space, setting the tone for this 60-minute piece that explores insecurities, violence and what it means to be in love with someone.

This ‘boy meets girl’ tale is set in Leeds, where Rosa (Francesca Joy) lives with her Grandma Lily (Ursula Mohan) when a window salesman called Niko (Prince Plockey) visits them. Their meeting leads to them becoming involved in a whirlwind romance that occurs alongside Rosa gearing up to attend university in London, something that kickstarts Niko’s insecurities. The chemistry between Joy and Plockey is electric, leading to fast-paced transitions and sleek physical theatre, however both actors also fall into the trap of not quite letting moments land with the audience, as often a passionate performance instantly follows a subdued one, something that is possibly out of fear of there being a lack of action. This being said, Plockey has a very clear score of movement within himself, as well as the other actors, and Mohan is charming as the ever so endearing grandmother. There is a subtlety to Mohan’s well- rounded performance and she often kisses her locket when reminiscing about her deceased husband, a small but important detail that makes this character believable. It is not a defining moment in the scene, but there is something about the character’s habit that stands out as being something she does automatically. Although this is a story of domestic violence, it is done artfully, with one stand out scene being where Rosa and Niko are sat side by side, simply describing with chilling calmness, the fight they are having to the audience which suggests that this is not a spontaneous struggle and that both characters have the ability to be cold and calculating.

As this is a touring production, the set, designed by Rebecca Brower, is minimal, with a metal bar frame in the shape of a house making up the main layout of the space, with the actors bringing in and out elements of furniture such as a table, chairs, a mattress and a bench. With the transitions being so fast, location is suggested by using framed pictures that are lit up when needed. For example, to show the audience that the scene is taking place in their home, a photo of a cup of tea being made is lit by one of the actors and in turn, when we are in London, a photo of a bus is lit. Ed Clarke uses sound design to create a feeling of tension by playing bass-heavy, short beats between scene changes, and Zia Bergin Holly’s placement of lighting effortlessly works with the space and emotion of each moment.

You Forgot the Mince is an insightful look at what makes people act and react the way they do, the struggle for power in their relationships with others and how we let people’s treatment of us influence how we treat one another.

You Forgot the Mince by Imagine If played at The Courtyard until September 30. 

Photo: Chris Gardner