Charlotte Pegram reviews YOU at Vault Festival
Our actions impact the lives of others, and a tangled web of lives are shown to be affected by the adoption of one child in ‘YOU’. From the young girl who falls pregnant at 15 and her embarrassed parents, to the young soldier who unknowingly fathers a child we see this seemingly time-worn tale brought passionately to life by Longsight Theatre.
Performed in traverse, the audience are immediately intrigued by the two chairs facing one another at each end of the stage. In many ways the piece is so simple- being performed by only two actors- but the precise staging and nuanced direction by Sarah Meadows make light work of what is a very complex tale. As the narrative web spreads wider, it draws in more and more characters, but at no point do we feel dismayed by this large cast as Kathryn O’Reilly and Stephen Myott-Meadows shift from one role to another seamlessly. We hop about in time, glimpsing the birth mother as a young child with her father, then skipping forward to see the adoptive parents try and fail to conceive their own child. The writing of this piece by Mark Wilson is so sensitively done; it doesn’t strain towards the maudlin and yet is so honest in its portrayal of this often overlooked subject.
Interestingly, the one character who is least represented in the story is the ‘YOU’ of the title. He is the baby, then son, then man around whom all these people gravitate. We hear so few words from him, but that works perfectly; the whole play has been written for him to explain to him his past, and to share his story with the wider audience. It is so rare that ‘issue’ plays manage to balance the need to raise awareness with the satisfaction of a compelling piece of drama, but ‘YOU’ has achieved just that.