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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Some Other Mother, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Traverse, Edinburgh
Three stars
On the face of it, AJ Taudevin's small-scale touring show takes the form of a ten-a-penny issue play. Produced in association with the Scottish Refugee Council, it is a single-set 75-minute drama about a mother and her ten-year-old daughter who have escaped persecution in a "broken" West African country and found themselves in the relative safety of a Glasgow tower block in sore need of renovation. There's black mould on the walls and community spirit has been bulldozed out of existence. Life, as one of the neighbours says, is "one long symphony of fuck".

We duly meet the well-meaning but ineffectual social worker and discover that the boorish loud-mouth of a neighbour actually has a heart of gold. So far so familiar. But Some Other Mother stands out in two significant ways.

The first is in Taudevin's interest in the psychological wounds inflicted by the immigration system. This flat is less a place of refuge than a cell providing momentary respite from a debilitating fear. Every half-understood letter is a threat, every knock on the door signals danger, every offer of help seems like a trick.

For young Star, it leads to nightmares, distracted behaviour and the arrival of dog-man, an imaginary friend who gives voice to her most violent and profane impulses. For Mama, with her rudimentary grasp of English, it leads to defensiveness, aggression and sleepless nights. As a study of mental ill health brought about by an unforgiving system, it is sad and distressing.

The second stand-out aspect is the strength of the four performances under the direction of Catrin Evans. Shvorne Marks as the girl and Joy Elias-Rilwan as her mother are luminous and unsentimental, their anger focused and unapologetic. Just as good are Pauline Knowles and Billy Mack in a production that hits harder than its modest premise portends.
©Mark Fisher
At MacRobert, Stirling, 12 June (01786 466666) and out tour until 27 June. Details: someothermotherplay.wordpress.com

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