Our Big Love Story
Reviewed – 22nd March 2018
“only manages to prod at each topic when you want it to punch”
The events of the 2005 7/7 bombings were a tragic, life changing moment for many Britons. Nearly thirteen years later, with distance it is possible to examine how the lives of British Muslims may have altered alongside the willingness for some to engage with more nationalistic tones. Stephanie Silver’s Our Big Love Story is a piece with ambitious questions. These fly between the rise of racial tension to the struggles of a generation bombarded by suffering. Unfortunately, this show at The Hope Theatre ends up rather thin.
The plot threads between two paths. The first follows a group of four teenagers in the lead up to a house party, full of insecurities around relationships and the constant presence of sex. The second moves away to a teacher present at the attack, and his mental health following his difficulties in dealing with his faith in the wake of devastation.
The trickiness comes from the range of topics that Silver puts into her script, thoughts and ideas that are interesting but fail to delve in with enough complexity to provide any real insight. Characters are broad, clear but quite often flat, motivations shifting instantly to move the plot forward sufficiently. This is combined with an arc that fails to earn any of the redemptive qualities it seems to reach for, lumbered by an unforgiveable act that loses any sympathy for all involved.
Calum Robshaw’s direction is functional but bitty, and can get sucked into the stilted nature of some of the scenes with a lack of drive in enough places to propel us forward as an audience. Gemma Bright-Thomas’ minimal design utilises two frames to imaginatively create the tube, partnering with Rose Hockaday’s lighting design to create a number of locations with minimal fuss.
It is a shame because the cast bring moments in which you feel they could shine. Holly Ashman’s Destiny has spark but cannot hold up stiff dialogue in her relationship with Naina Kohli’s Anjum. Similarly, a monologue from Alex Britt’s Jack provides some reasonably engaging insight but is lumbered in clichéd conversation. It is Osman Baig’s Teacher who suffers most, crippled with monologues that fail to release much and interrupt any dramatic flow.
This is a piece that admirably attempts to cover a huge amount, but only manages to prod at each topic when you want it to punch.
Reviewed by Callum McCartney
Photography by Jennifer Evans
Our Big Love Story
Hope Theatre until 7th April