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You review at Vaults, London – ‘sensitive and compelling’

Kathryn O’Reilly and Stephen Myott-Meadows in You at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Nick Rutter Kathryn O’Reilly and Stephen Myott-Meadows in You at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Nick Rutter
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Mark Wilson’s two-hander, You, originally premiered at the Brighton Fringe in 2015, and it’s lost little of its power since then. It’s a fluid show, in which two performers – Kathryn O’Reilly and Stephen Myott-Meadows – seamlessly slip between a series of characters to tell the decades-long story of one baby’s adoption

We see O’Reilly as the child’s grandmother, fussy and furious, as its adoptive mother, devastated by her own miscarriages, and as its birth mum, first a powerless teenager then an anxious older woman waiting to meet her long lost son. We see Myott-Meadows as its grandfather, still and silent, as its father, a soul-crushed soldier home on leave, and as the child itself – a baby, a boy, then a man.

If there’s a touch of overwrought solemnity to Wilson’s writing, there’s also a compelling, scope. Sliding between generations with little more than a subtle change of tempo, he skilfully evokes the spiders’ web of regret and remorse that spills out from an act of adoption to reverberate years and years afterwards.

Sarah Meadows’ staging is similarly smooth, skipping decades in the space of a heartbeat, underpinned throughout by a resonant original score from Benedict Taylor. Both O’Reilly and Myott-Meadows hop from character to character with a likeable lightness of touch, and You emerges as a sensitive – if slightly mawkish – exploration of what giving up a child really means.

I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream review at Vaults, London – ‘funny, fierce, furious’

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A sensitive two-hander exploring the extensive effects of adoption