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Our Big Love Story review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘convincing performances’

The cast of Our Big Love Story at Hope Theatre, London The cast of Our Big Love Story at Hope Theatre, London

It’s a very particular kind of a teenage emotion that powers Stephanie Silver’s new play Our Big Love Story. The type of feverish intensity that has the characters swinging wildly between shoving their hands in each other pants, bitterly hating a former friend and weeping for the recently dead. It’s hard not to feel slightly maternal towards these antsy creatures, to want to pop the kettle on and get them to sit still for a moment.

A bomb explodes on a tube train at Liverpool Street Station. Four school friends and a teacher enter into a game of blame, revenge, scapegoating and forgiveness in the following months. The relationship of two characters to the bomb is simple – one is in the tube carriage, the other’s father has been killed. For the other pair, a Hindu schoolgirl racially bullied and the daughter of an EDL member, it’s the ripple effect of the event that implicates them.

There are many convincing performances of adolescent mannerisms by the cast. In particular, Holly Ashman as Destiny is a muddle of misplaced anger and transparent vulnerability.

Gemma Thomas’ set design of horizontal bars is also effective. Shaped like both tube carriage and climbing frame, it neatly suggests the closeness between child’s play and adult violence.

The handicap is that the play is overly weighed down by its ambitious attempt to address so many ‘issues’. Along with terrorism and retribution, there’s interracial relationships, lesbianism, availability of pornography, and generational divisions. Too much zeitgeist and not enough storytelling.

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Verdict
New writing set in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that gets bogged down in its attempts to be relevant
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