A powerful reminder to communicate with each other
Brother and sister, Leslie and Maureen respectively, tell a deeply personal story at two points in time. Firstly we hear from Leslie, played by Steven Mann, who is tucked up in an armchair in 1986 as he relishes the opportunity to have someone to talk to now that his mother has died. We are treated to reminiscences about his life, Mann giving a comedic, warm and likable portrayal of Leslie. His tear-jerking description of the death of his mother earns sympathy and affection. Just when we think we can see the big picture, Maureen arrives onstage. After being given quite a bad rap by Leslie, Maureen, played by Sarah-Jane Vincent, begins to unpick the threads of the tapestry Leslie was weaving. My eyes were teary, not once but twice.
Both Vincent and Mann rose to the challenge of their roles admirably. Mann’s conjuring admirable levels of bumbling, fumbling charm, it was a real shame we couldn’t hear him the entire time. Vincent has the real challenge of overcoming an audience deliberately prejudiced against Maureen. She allows the audience to decide for themselves – now they could clearly see how the pair had got themselves into this messy, silent estrangement.
The conversational delivery and language really works to convey the homely, everyday feel. It is so rewarding and exciting to see a piece of work that focuses on older and experienced characters. Even though at some points it began to drag a little, the production held together. A Different Way Home is a powerful reminder to communicate with each other, and not to ignore old wounds, allowing them to fester and become toxic.