Congratulations to the Theatre by the Lake for commissioning this play from Richard Cameron - to the playwright for his approach to a subject that remains one of society’s few remaining taboos, domestic violence - and to Stefan Escreet and his company, for its handling of a script that brings light, shadow, humour and the expected, but never overwhelming, sadness to this production.
Stephen Aintree, Nicky Goldie, Louise Yates and Jessica Ellis in Roma and the Flannelettes: A Love Like Yours Theatre by the Lake, Keswick Photo: Keith Pattison
This tale of the survivors of physical and sexual abuse in Doncaster and the people who care for them is not what you might expect. They find relief in music, forming a spoof Tamla Motown quartet with dazzling opening and closing routines and various songs. As Delie, the damaged child-woman, Jessica Ellis is superb, with a powerful singing voice. She takes us from laughter to tears in an instant. As Roma, whose abuse happens in real time, Augustina Seymour is a young woman in denial and totally believable. The desperation of Nicky Goldie’s Brenda, who runs the Ashmount women’s refuge, is equally convincing as she picks up the pieces abandoned by a seemingly uncaring society. Jean, one of her successes, played by Louise Yates, grows from frightened refugee to confident helper - an inspiring performance. As volunteer helper, George, a man wanting to give something back to his community, Stephen Aintree is particularly impressive in his condemnation of modern society, as is Philip Rham as the police officer powerless to offer more than minimal assistance.
Despite Richard Cameron’s tendency to overstate his case we leave the theatre appalled but at the same time, uplifted. This is a superb final studio production of a new play that deserves a wider audience.