Mush and Me is a fresh retelling of an old story, one in which faith catalyses what seems a painfully unnecessary conflict between lovers. NANCY Collective breathes new life into this well-worn narrative by drawing inspiration from a series of recorded interviews with Londoners in interfaith relationships. Soundbites from these interviewees, whose faiths range from Judaism to Sikhism, Islam and Christianity, provide an audible backdrop to scene changes, and real-life context to the drama playing out onstage.
The chemistry created by director Rosy Banham between the two is palpable; as Mush leans in with a mouthful of hummus on Southend Beach, the butterflies are infectious.
The thread which writer Karla Crome chooses to unravel is that of Gabby and Mush. Co-workers at a telesales company, the pair strike up a conversation that leaves subtle clues of their religious backgrounds, without simply laying their cards on the table: she is Jewish, he Muslim. Although the two-hander was in part devised by actor Daniella Isaacs (who plays Gabby), it is David Mumeni’s performance by which I am most convinced. Mumeni seems more at home with Mush, giving to his would-be hoodrat an ease not seen in Isaacs’ forceful performance.
That said, the chemistry created by director Rosy Banham between the two is palpable; as Mush leans in with a mouthful of hummus on Southend Beach, the butterflies are infectious. The sense of intimacy is only increased by their being entirely alone in the production and, although various family members are referred to or even addressed in their absence, the drama seems more credible for the absence of domestic feuding. It reminds us of a lover’s myopia, the inability to see the issues (in this case, of faith, family and tradition) in which their relationship is implicated.
Mush and Me’s success is its sense of incompleteness. Though the hour-long format gives most Fringe shows a sense of abruptness, it’s those that actively refuse finality, whose world is so vivid as to continue beyond its own formal bounds, whose ‘wooing’, as in Love’s Labour’s Lost, ‘doth not end like an old play,’ whose work is truly complete. If Gabby and Mush’s love defies faith, so too does it defy theatre.