Pros: Great characters, strong movement sequences, atmospheric set and lighting.
Cons: Clunky textual experimentation with form, unsatisfying conclusion.
Rosa (Francesca Joy) and Niko (Prince Plockey) are in love. It shines in their eyes and transforms the words they speak into delicate tunes of tentative affection. It’s a kinetic energy quickening their movements and heightening their gestures, their shuffling feet and intentionally unintentional first touches of flirtation becoming bold and playful dances full of possibility. You Forgot The Mince at The Courtyard Theatre does a brilliant job of capturing how much fun falling in love is, the excitement of never quite knowing what the other person is thinking, or how much they feel.
With a simple yet evocative set that becomes the skeleton of all the buildings the two lovers will call home, we are taken on an intimate journey through their relationship; from their meetcute at Rosa’s grandmother’s house when their teenage ambition could take them anywhere, to university halls, to their first flat shared as a couple; we see it all. But it’s not all happy. Rosa and Niko are in an abusive relationship. Issues bubble under the surface from a childhood fraught with pain that, left unresolved, will violently explode.
While the play ultimately presents domestic violence as a chain reaction with violence begetting violence, it also raises the role tolerant partners play in perpetuating abuse. The production takes a varied approach to theatrically exploring this issue, with some choices working more effectively than others.
The movement direction from White and Givan is great; dangerous when it needs to be. The lighting design effectively demonstrates the flip from romanticised ideal to harsh reality. The sound design is occasionally a little obtrusive, but must be commended for pulling off the audio trick of having a phone believably sound as if it is ringing from an onstage pocket. Rosa’s grandmother Lily, beautifully played by Ursula Mohan, has some cracking one-liners grounded in well-meaning kindness that provide an important counterpoint to the toxicity of the young relationship.
There’s some clunkiness; moments when characters address the audience sometimes aren’t sufficiently differentiated from the scene taking place to sufficiently come across. Particularly immersion breaking is when the text takes on the form of beat poetry/rap. The rhymes feel forced and unnecessary; the switch in form isn’t helpful in illuminating character or exploring theme, and jars with the enjoyably natural banter between the two leads.
The ending of Mince is a little undercooked, seeing a character behaving in a way that feels unearned. It feels more like a play presenting a thesis on domestic abuse than a play following the character’s journey to a logical and meaningful conclusion. This is a shame, as the strength of the character work is the play’s strongest point. They’re an exhilarating and heartfelt bunch, and in the time spent in their company we grow to care about what happens to them.
Author: Francesca Joy
Director: Stephen Whitson
Producer: Imagine If
Box Office: 020 7729 2202
Booking Link: http://www.thecourtyard.org.uk/whatson/944/you-forgot-the-mince
Booking Until: 30/09/17