Hope Theatre, London – until 7 April 2018
Guest reviewer: Felicity Huxley-Miners
A year on from the terrorist attack on Westminster bridge, Our Big Love Story came to the Hope Theatre, a play set around a teacher and four students in the wake of what became known as the 7/7 bombings.
These events happened thirteen years ago but still feel incredibly raw today. And as those teenagers now near thirty, one can’t help but draw parallels between the teenagers so affected then and the children and teenagers who had the misfortune of being at the Manchester Arena in May last year.
Destiny, Anjum, Jack and Katie are typical teenagers with typical problems, except Destiny might be in love with Anjum and her dad’s in the EDL. The Teacher is a religious Muslim living and working in London but all their worlds change forever when a terrorist bomb goes off on a crowded Tube on that fateful morning. Our Big Love Story felt in part like a coming of age story gone horribly wrong as events that no-one would ever want to experience happened. As they do.
A clever set design by Gemma Thomas used frames that became the tube, shifted as the bomb exploded and were used to isolate each character as we were given access to a window into their lives, totally separate from the lives of those around them.
Writer Stephanie Silver’s own experience as an A&E nurse shone through the unflinchingly raw text. The play was ambitious in it’s choice of themes, touching on religion, radicalisation, sex, extremism, racism, friendship, growing up and fitting in through a whirlwind, energy filled hour and twenty minutes. While it unapologetically revealed the zeitgeist of the time we were left wishing we’d been able to zoom right into each character’s own little world instead of addressing each issue at large for the devastating impact to fully land.
Osman Baig led the cast in a haunting opening before director Calum Robshaw’s dynamic direction propelled us through the noughties back into adolescence. Alex Britt stood out as hapless teenager Jack, stumbling through all the normal building blocks of his first relationship and Doing The Right Thing whilst struggling to understand his own feelings towards his father’s death and how they seemed to manifest in front of him.
Overall Glass Half Full’s production was fast paced, dynamic, witty and thrilling with many important issues raised. There’s certainly a lot to talk about and hopefully much more to come from this bold new company.
Our Big Love Story runs at the Hope Theatre until 7th April.
Here’s the booking link http://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/big-love-story/
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