Review: The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me is “an astounding use of sound and personality”

The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me is playing at the Hope Mill Theatre until 25th September 2022
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Emmerson & Ward Productions and Curve present The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me at Hope Mill Theatre from Thursday 22nd September – Sunday 25th September 2022.

This play introduces Dom; a wannabe influencer who lives at home with his mam, looking to find a connection with another gay man – ideally someone who can share his fondness of steam trains. This proves difficult, not only because gay men in his homely northern village are few and far between, but also because of the panic attacks he suffers. Though, things seemingly begin to look up when he visits his local MP’s surgery. The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me brilliantly and beautifully combines trauma, acceptance, mental health, and perfectly timed comedic relief in its thought-provoking plot.

Diverse characters and personalities take shape, contributing to the narrative. Dom, his mam, the local MP, and Dom’s love interest – to name a few – are all portrayed by the same person, creator Rob Ward. This is a refreshingly fascinating twist on traditional storytelling and makes for a special experience. Ward manages to perfectly differentiate between each personality by ascribing unique mannerisms, making for clean-cut, quick transitions in and out of the characters. For example, love interest Joey takes a stance with one hand in his jeans pocket, whereas Dom’s mother is identified by the northern accent and drawn-out speech.

It has a very functional, no-frills set that includes a white screen backdrop, a couple of photography umbrellas that emphasise the depth of the flashing colours and lighting, a desk, chair and a storage box, the latter two of which are on wheels to allow for easy manoeuvring during the show. The minimalism suits this play perfectly by reflecting the seriousness of the issues explored within the plot, without being distracting.

The lighting plays a huge role in portraying a change of setting and understanding of different locations, whether it is the flash of purple whenever Dom takes a selfie, or the multicolour changing lights when in the club, it is all rather clever. A stand-out piece of the production is the use of sound. When Dom feels panic attacks coming on, you start to hear the sound of a steam train gathering speed which effectively builds not only the tension on stage and with the audience, but also perfectly represents the tightening sensation of how a panic attack feels. The use of the steam train sound, in particular, is so brilliant because it perfectly keeps in line with Dom’s character, who likes to characterise his life with train metaphors.

On balance, this is a very likeable play. It conveys big meanings via a small set. You can easily engage with it even if not knowledgeable on the issues presented and if you enjoy politics, or rather, mocking politics, it will be right up your street. Ward’s solo performance is very well-received by audiences and rightly so, his flawless execution of embodying so many different personalities is astounding.

The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me runs for 75 minutes (approximately) without an interval and is playing until 25th September 2022 at the Hope Mill Theatre.

Tickets for The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me

Tickets start at just £12, or £10 concession (plus booking fee) and can be purchased here.

It is recommended for audience members 16 years and older, due to the sexual nature of some scenes, and some themes could potentially be triggering for some.

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