Review: Fatal Light – Charged, Soho Theatre

Part of the Charged season at Soho Theatre

“Someone’s been round, some prick from Social Services, some f**king man telling me how to be a mother”

Taking place on the main stage for the first part is Chloë Moss’ Fatal Light. Directed by Lucy Morrison, it unfolds backwards from the starting point of a young policewoman struggling to deal with informing a woman Maggie, that her daughter Janine has died in prison. As we proceed, we discover the events and circumstances that have brought us here as Maggie is now forced to care for her granddaughter Aine, with the main thrust around Janine’s struggles to deal with her mental health issues and get some understanding treatment from the authorities.

The succession of short scenes means that there’s not really enough time to develop much dramatic impetus or the themes that are being covered, though the structure is cleverly portrayed: the three of us all twigged at different times that the storytelling was in reverse (depressingly, I was the last to work it out!).

But there’s a refreshing humanity to Moss’ characters: Ashley McGuire is astoundingly good throughout, but particularly at showing the awkward humour of Maggie’s attempts to connect with her daughter through new age philosophy cribbed off a herbal tea bag, Ony Uhiara’s cellmate who wants Janine to shut up, but recognises the importance of letting her talk about her daughter and the perceptive young girl who sees the troubled relationship between her mother and grandmother, played beautifully by Isabella Mason. Rebecca Scroggs also impresses as Janine, the woman at the centre of it all whose vast emotions spill from her in ways she just cannot control.

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