Imagine If: You Forgot the Mince @ Leeds’s Carriageworks Theatre
Imagine If’s You Forgot the Mince is a deeply moving and dynamic piece of cutting-edge theatre. Francesca Joy’s remarkably realistic performance as a fiery but also naïve student begins in her grandma’s’s home when a door-to-door salesman charms her with his spiel. This is Niko (Ashley Gerlach) who is a lovable rogue who hides his darker side (that includes petty crime and his mother’s crack cocaine habit) preferring to rely on his handsome good looks and fine masculine figure to win a chance with Rosa..
But it all happens at a time when Rosa, with the support of her grandma Lily (a revelation in Julie Edwards) is set to go to London to study journalism. The eventual decision is that Rosa pursues her journo dreams with Niko tagging along, promising to tidy up his act. Some of the most gripping scenes are when Rosa visits him in prison and, when he is released, their frequent bouts of argumentative behaviour which is performed with verve and veracity.
But the most violent scene is simply spoken quite deliberately devoid of emotion which makes it all the more uncanny and disturbing. They frequently kiss and make up and often the violent flings are over trivial things, but symbolic of some of what is going wrong. Almost inevitably the pressure of their dysfunctional partnership makes it impossible for Rosa to continue studying. Though even when they attempt to build up hope in Leeds Niko is soon back to his old tricks.
Then comes the show-stopper when Rosa transfers her anger at Niko onto her grandma, hence the title, You Forgot the Mince. The show manages to avoid clichés and melodrama but allows us to see into the three lives with an illuminating eye. Francesca Joy is definitely a talent to look out for and Imagine If are a company with their heart on the beat of the things that make the genre so vital: realistic, frenetic, candid and well-observed—a resounding success.
Reviewed by Rich Jevons at the Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds. See here for more info.