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Published 10 October 2008

Unique theatre company Shared Experience comes to Hampstead theatre with Polly Teale’s new provocative and topical play Mine. Charlotte Marshall was in the first night audience.

A wealthy couple, known only to us as Woman and Man, appear from the outside to have everything – a beautiful house, successful careers and a loving, exciting relationship. However, in the midst of the minimalist elegance of their home there is one thing missing, something that as successful as they are, they have not managed to produce, the thing they want more than anything in the world; a baby.

The story begins on the day they receive a phone call from an adoption agency. A healthy, newborn baby is in a hospital across the city, waiting for them to arrive and take her home to be fostered. The couple’s excitement is only diminished by the very real presence of the birth mother, Rose. A drug addict caught in a circle of abuse and prostitution from her childhood, she is given the challenge to clean up and get her life on track in order to reclaim her child. Doomed to fail from the start, her existence has an unimaginable effect on the couple’s life and they soon set off down a path where they risk losing everything.

Alistair Petrie and Katy Stephens perfectly portray the ideal couple as the nameless Woman and the Man. Him a successful, tall, statuesque architect and her an elegant, controlled career woman with charm turned on as easily as Nigella Lawson. Her extended family also fit the picture with a slightly ruffled, yummy mummy sister and expensively dressed mother. However, Teale’s play shows that under this upper middle-class façade often lie hidden scars from emotional abuse and addictions more socially acceptable than Rose’s use of needles and cheap lager.  The characters begin to question if they are any more suitable to be parents than the brash, vulnerable and dysfunctional Rose, crawling the streets of King’s Cross.

Shared Experience aims to go beyond the barriers of classic theatre and reveal the imagination and emotions of the characters on stage. This is achieved with the presence of a child onstage whom only the Woman can see. With a slightly sinister edge, and dressed in an old-fashioned white nightgown, she flips between representing the image of the child the Woman so badly wants, to the Woman as a child, angry and frustrated by her own mother’s ideals of perfection.

Mine is a chilling insight into the reality of getting everything you ever wanted and explores the obsession we have about where we have come from and what really lies hidden within our genes.



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