Breathing Space by Mary Cooper, directed by Romy Baskerville, with Timothy Platt, Julia Munrow, Vashti Maclachan and Jo Mousley. Presented by M6 Theatre at the Du Maurier Theatre (231 Queen's Quay West). May 22 and 23, Thursday 10 am, Friday 1:15 pm. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
breathing space is a breath of fresh theatrical air. Danny and Zara live next door to each other in a run-down apartment complex, where they've both recently moved after escaping from two very different kinds of abuse. Danny and his mom are fleeing his abusive dad; Zara and her mother are Kosovo refugees.
What might seem like earnest social-welfare pap soon becomes gripping, emotionally involving theatre, thanks to Mary Cooper's unsentimental script and Romy Baskerville's sharp production, which employs a pulsating electronic soundscape, a chorus and concise choreography.
Cooper doesn't spoon-feed us her plot. She lets her characters reveal their stories in surprising ways. She's especially good at evoking alienation and teen peer pressure. The chorus is particularly suggestive, providing social and psychological layers.
The four actors play various characters, filling out every painful aspect of this life of fear and poverty. Jo Mousley stands out as the bright Albanian girl who wants some stability in her life and learns to fight for what she believes in, including the power of friendship.