Mush and Me

Fri 8th – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Tania Nicole Clarke

at 19:49 on 19th Aug 2014

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‘Mush and Me’ is a ground-breaking new play written by Karla Crome about two young believers who fall in love. If only it were this easy; by the end of the performance the audience are truly wishing it were as Mush finally gives into the ties and cultural expectations that deny him to love Gabby: “you and me, we just don’t fit do we? People should fit”.

This refreshing new piece of writing explores the undeniable boundaries of religion when it curtails and forbids two star-struck lovers to be together. ‘Mush and Me’ reminds us of a modern day equivalent to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but is far less floral and melodramatic in its depiction of forbidden love. Rather it is stripped back, genuine, and true.

The two-hander is performed by David Mumeni and Daniella Issacs, who play the two young lovers Mush and Gabby. These loveable characters are adorable to watch on stage, and win us over from the very beginning when the storm is only just beginning to brew. If it were not for the profound chemistry between Mumeni and Issacs the play itself may not have clicked as well as it does.

The duo commit to naturalistic performances which are as close as possible to normality. One creative observation that might be made is that sometimes this simplicity and need to be normal on stage can result in a lack of romance and spark in moments that are not obviously tender between the two characters. The performance deserves praise for its brave and honest depiction of falling in love, and to dress the story up as a fairy-tale would be disastrous. We certainly believe Mush and Gabby are desperately in love, but sometimes the passion and fire feels slightly cut short and diluted by the casual style of acting.

As a whole the production is extremely well put together. It is visually stunning, with all its performance elements integrating seamlessly to form a slick performance with an impressive amount of charm and character.

The subject matter can be related to by a diverse, wide multi-cultural demographic of theatre-goers. It tackles the issue of religion head-on through its staging of a taboo relationship based on a series of real interviews that were conducted with a range of young, religious Londoners who had embarked on some form of interfaith relationship. Snippets from these interviews are carefully inserted as voiceovers mixed through music and played over scene transitions; a constant reminder to us of the truth that lies beneath the play.

Scene transitions are logical and swift, every single movement in the production seems to make perfect sense and tells us something about the emotional journey being embarked on by Mush and Gabby. We hang onto their every word and interaction; the performance is both electrifyingly intense and very watchable, which I believe stems from our genuine interest in the issues at hand.

There is a strong, infectious energy that seeps from the stage itself and into the audience. This manifests in a kind of creative buzz among the audience who are invested in the characters, and desperately want their relationship to work against the odds.

‘Mush and Me’ is a moving, thought-provoking and quietly tragic production based on real life accounts of ordinary people. It is certainly one to watch, and Mumeni and Issacs are two talented actors to look out for.

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Gender Trouble

at 00:20 on 20th Aug 2014

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'Mush and Me' followed the love story of Gabby and Mush, and the problems they faced in following different religions.

The production's success lay in the strength of its premise - a love story tackling problems of responsibility, obligation, faith and desire. The play was both touching and funny; Mush and Gabby are work colleagues and conversation is initially restricted to only waspish flirtation and Mush's intrigue with the hummus Gabby is eating. Both Daniella Isaacs and David Mumeni captured a believable naturalism in their relationship with one another, and their acting was not once overstated or unconvincing.

The writing was equally strong and showed Karla Crome to be a writer of real promise. With a subject matter as cliched as 'forbidden love', the temptation is for writing to become equally generic and predictable. Crome's dialogue exceeded this rule and was never pretentious: "Mush: it's good to do that psychological shit. Starve the body, nourish the soul// Who said that?// Me.".

Although the dialogue was largely believable and convincing, Crome's writing suffered at times from bearing overstretched similes: "I'm talking about him as if he's this weird knock off handbag, but he's not". When Gabby described her house in mourning as being like "a bad family holiday to Butlins", one couldn't help but find the attempt at comedy quite ill-judged.

Overall however, 'Mush and Me' was a hugely impressive piece of theatre and approached issues which are both relevant and hugely important in modern day. Well worth a watch.

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