What do you do when your child has been arrested for something unspeakable? Can you still love them even if they’re a monster? This is what the unique and creative minds behind Put the Book Down theatre company asks its audience in this profound one-woman performance.
The mother of a monster, the worst mother imaginable: because how does a little boy grow up and do… that
Mine is the company's debut scripted play, written by Doug Deans in collaboration with Actress Maisie Barlow and Director Thomas Carter. Maisie performs the role of a single mother, haunted by the arrest of her only son on New Year’s Eve for a crime that is only described as ‘unspeakable’. However, this is not the sole focus of Mine, which instead gives a voice to the shatteringly powerful maternal bond between mother and criminal.
The show takes place on a blank stage with a metal framed chair centre-left and allows Maisie to bring you headfirst into her world of darkened living rooms and police station waiting areas. The lighting rarely varies from a single white spotlight, effectively reminding the audience that she is also on trial: the nature/nurture trial, the ‘Dear God, why didn’t you see that coming?’ trial.
This is the unsettling truth at the core of Mine - it forces its audience to confront issues that the mainstream newspapers and TV stations fail to show. The mother of a monster, the worst mother imaginable: because how does a little boy grow up and do… that without some bad parenting, right? Did she not notice the signs? Did she not try and stop him? Mine takes all those questions and presents you Maisie Barlow, an actress whose heart-wrenching performance is a slap in the face reminder of the raw and complex parent-child bond.
Barlow has an impressive ability to switch between the evident vulnerability of her primary character to the confidence of a police officer, the boredom of a receptionist and the anger of a protester. You can see each character before your eyes, envisage their individuality as clearly as if they were separate performers. This is undeniably credited to some fantastic writing - no line is too long, the tension hangs in the air between every scene; each sentence is carefully selected and expertly delivered.
Mine is an emotional 50 minutes of intense theatre; but 50 minutes you’d be daft to miss. Put the Book Down are quickly proving to be a credit to their profession.