The ongoing anguish of a child abandoned at birth plays out with emotional dexterity in the final production in OvalHouse’s lady-led season. Under the direction of Rachel Briscoe and Dan Barnard, Mula uses the passage of time to track the lives of two women who are forever linked, but never truly connected. It’s a stirring and imaginative piece in which a young woman must navigate through the fragments that form her foundation.
The numbers one to 20 ascend and descend along the black walls of the studio, where a young male lies asleep on a bed in the corner. Asha and Nid enter the stage. Asha is a young woman of mixed race heritage and Nid is a 42 year-old British Asian woman. Both women chart their lives from birth through individual monologues. They count from one to 20, marking each year of their lives with an anecdote.
As both women reach the age of 21 there’s a shift. Nid recalls the experience of giving birth at King’s Cross Station and abandoning her child. Asha imagines the many circumstances which may have surrounded her birth and subsequent adoption. Exasperating the confusion and hurt of Asha’s abandonment is the uncertainty surrounding her mixed heritage.
Abandonment is the trigger, the cause and consequence of Asha’s suffering and Mula captures the affliction of her situation acutely through the fractured structure of her script. Mula’s clever use of time sets the rhythm of the production and pace of the pain, whilst demonstrating the ongoing disconnect between the two women. The creative team behind this production have staged the fragments and complexities of the two stories with simplicity and finesse. A more imposing production would certainly have lessened the power of play.
Zoë Nicole emits the confusion and instability of Asha’s life with confidence. She’s supported by Bharti Patel who offers a moving portrayal of a mother haunted by a split-second decision and Joseph Radcliffe, who awakes from his slumber at the end of the production to briefly reveal the impact on Asha’s ability to love.
Same Same is an affecting tale of abandonment and belonging in which a young woman’s mixed race identity is but one shard in a pile of fragments. Fanshen’s stripped back production allows these fragments to truly pierce.