There are so many shows at every Edinburgh Fringe that one might band together as ‘issue’ plays – productions that look at a problem in society, and make a play about it. This year I’ve been thinking about this a lot; about what the purpose of this is, about who we are making this art for, and about whether or not we should be making it at all. Imagine If Theatre’s production of You Forgot The Mince sets all of these issues aside. The play is a harrowing tale about domestic abuse and the way relationships can shatter out of our control, and alongside their Fringe show, the company are also raising money for a run in male prisons. Their money is clearly where their mouth is.
The piece segues effortlessly between beauty and terror, the script as smooth and changeable as the actors’ bodies. Francesca Joy (writer and performer) took us inside the mind of both abuser and abused, and there was potential to truly understand why victims stay with their abusers at all. We laughed and cried (and at one point my heart jolted in my ears) just as much as Rosa did. When Rosa told us that she couldn’t leave Niko because she loved him, we fully believed her. The actors’ movement and vocal control worked perfectly alongside the script, bringing to life both the poetic and the bare parts of Joy’s writing.
There were a couple of unnecessary pieces on the set – light up pictures were (I think) supposed to inform us of geographical location, but they weren’t really needed, and while they didn’t distract from the action for the audience, gave the actors too much work. Yet the rest of the design was gorgeous and perfect for the show – the skeleton of the room, simultaneously evocative of a prison and a home, and this careful balance was also maintained by the lighting and sound.
This show invites you in, and then pulls the rug from under your feet. We are fully and fearfully immersed into the mind of a victim of domestic abuse, and in a way that remains a commendable piece of art. This is a theatre company that clearly cares not just about the story it is telling, but that it is told well.