Mine is perhaps one of the most intense hours at the Fringe. It’s an emotionally devastating one-woman show that takes its protagonist to breaking point and beyond. Maisie Barlow plays a mother whose life is thrown into disarray when her son commits an unspeakable act.

Paints an incredibly realistic portrait of a mind under incredible pressure, turning in on itself and lashing out at a suddenly hostile world

Doug Deans’ script is much more concerned with the mother’s inner emotional turmoil than examining how far good or bad parenting can determine a person’s character. Indeed Deans’ only real attempt to do this, in a quasi-philosophical opening, falls a little short of the emotional rollercoaster that follows. His real talents lie in his ability to get inside the mother’s head, and to his credit what we find there isn’t always pretty. The writing can be poetic, is always truthful, and any detail is shot through with the strain on the mother’s psyche.

Maisie Barlow is exceptional in the role, and it’s hard not to be overcome by her raw emotion. When she spits out frantic runs of dialogue, you can feel hordes of devastating thoughts rushing to assault her. She searingly captures her character’s vulnerability, to the point where it’s very difficult to stand apart from the woman and not empathise with her completely. Barlow and Dean paint an incredibly realistic portrait of a mind under incredible pressure, turning in on itself and lashing out at a suddenly hostile world, ashamed of her son but forced to accept that he’s “still mine” despite sometimes wishing he wasn’t.

The play is just as interesting in what it doesn’t say and what it leaves unresolved: we never learn the son’s motive or exactly what he has done. The perspective is solidly fixed on the mother as she is hounded by the press and condemned by the public. We are given a series of intense snapshots into the protagonist’s mind without any judgement being passed, inhabiting completely the character’s perspective.

Much of the audience was noticeably shaken once the show came to an end, and it’s hard to find much Fringe theatre that equals it in terms of pure emotion. Harrowing and shatteringly real, Mine powerfully forces us to inhabit an uncomfortable perspective.

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The Blurb

She loves him. Isn’t that what parents do? She does love him. She doesn’t really have much choice. She’s loved him for seventeen years now. Then they tell her what he’s done. Is it still possible to love someone like that? Mine is her side of the story we often forget. After performing around the midlands and off west end at The Arts Theatre Leicester Square, Put the Book Down make their Fringe debut with this searing new one-woman play about shame, courage, guilt, and good parenting.