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No Loss, Joe Loss (Salford)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Venue: The Lowry
Where: Salford

Mona (Meriel Schofield) , a recovering depressive, looks back over incidents of emotional blackmail to try and understand  the effect that her overbearing and needy mother-in-law (Jacqueline Pilton) had upon the lives of herself and her family.

Writer Christine Marshall tackles dark and even potentially disturbing themes with occasional bursts of humour but her script is so heavy-handed that the emotional impact is muted. The audience is not so much directed to revelations by plot development or reasoned argument as hammered into submission by the sheer volume of words.

This verbosity affects the performances limiting the extent of character development that the actors can achieve. Schofield is able to convey Mona’s mixture of mental fragility and inner strength but the stilted cod-Shakespearean speech patterns that her husband (Stephen Tomlin) uses as a coping mechanism make his character irritating.

The play is too long and director Colin Muir gives us an uneven production. The tone varies from naturalistic to artificial but never settles on one suitable for the subject matter.

No Loss, Joe Loss demonstrates that a challenging subject does not guarantee a satisfactory play.

- Dave Cunningham


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