On entering the Lost Theatre auditorium in Stockwell for the first time, I am struck by the unique space and its amplitude. To complement this, Paulina Rzeszowska’s set and costume design encapsulate the world of Azerbaijan in 1963. Soft colours and dusty books are but a couple of touches that accent the period and setting authentically on the set of You’re Always With Me.

True to tradition, this Russian story frames dreams and hearts, torn and disgarded. A lonely widower, Hesenzade (Doug Devany), and a neglected daughter, Nergile (Stephanie Harte), are drawn together, climbing through the debris of their seemingly life-long discomfort to catch eyes for a moment too many, as they both enjoy the scent of a pressed wild flower. Moments like these captivated me, although most of the dialogue doesn’t ring true to my understanding of how people communicate with one another in a crisis. It is softer moments between Harte and her mother Nezaket (played by Zara Plessard) that invited my curiosity into their relationship, rather than the dialogue.

Helen Coles’s characters allow some light in with their positivity and playfulness. Action that takes place in the upper level of the stage with Coles and Karl Niklas (Faraj/Badal Farajov) is choreographed seamlessly. These charming interjections show characters with a zest for life amidst the grief of the current circumstances. The actors move and change shape through the piece in a stylised way, surprising us – an arm appears from the darkness with a glass of orange juice, a belt is fed stealthily into its owner’s waist almost by magic. Some of these physical vignettes are delightful, teasing our expectation away from the norm, while others don’t hit the mark quite so successfully.

As the relationship between the unlikely pair of lost souls develops, the other characters impose judgement and cruel analysis. This reminds us of how, as people, we can make such harsh and unnecessary decisions about others. Ilyas Afandiyev’s writing gives a platform on which real love can grow in an otherwise dark place, ascending tall above the adversities of the Soviet era.

You’re Always With Me is a brave and unapologetic piece of traditional writing that gives us the opportunity to spot happiness in unlikely places. Although very bleak, the moments of hopefulness carry us through as we follow these unfortunate people. Credit is due to the actors and the director Filiz Ozcan, as this play is certainly not a walk in the park.

You’re Always With Me is playing at the Lost Theatre until 27 September. For more information and tickets, see the Lost Theatre website.