7 July 2015 – a frightening day for the United Kingdom, the day that one of the worst terrorist attacks occurred on British Soil. Our Big Love Story uses this as a base to emphasise the brutality of racism, prejudice and the radicalisation of young people.

Written by Stephanie Silver, this new play splits into two initial sections, later combining and showing how two worlds can collide. In interspersed scenes, the love story of two pairs of college students is told, providing some genuinely hilarious dialogue with a thought-provoking undertone. On the other hand, the audience is introduced to ‘The Teacher’ (Osman Baig), retelling his experience of that fateful day in July through a series of monologues – he was travelling on the tube as the explosion hit.

Our Big Love Story Hope Theatre

Image courtesy of Jennifer Evans

The juxtaposition works well in Calum Robshaw‘s running of the show – Baig acts as the eyewitness, occasionally in graphic detail, to showcase the horror that the survivors must have endured on that fatal event. Interweaving the humorous love story throughout also highlights the ancillary impacts that this event had on society, many of which are still being dealt with today.

After news of the attack, Destiny (Holly Ashman) becomes radicalised by the idea that anyone who is from a different culture or religion must be a terrorist. By forcing a wedge in between herself and her Hindu lover, Anjum (Naina Kohli), Silver aptly showcases how a young person can be so easily influenced by those around them. Destiny keeps repeating that she isn’t a racist, highlighting the dichotomy of how someone can think this way yet still avoid such racist labels.

Our Big Love Story Hope Theatre

Image courtesy of Jennifer Evans

As Our Big Love Story progresses, more of the cast background is revealed – their stories are condensed into a coherent plot. Baig imparts serious emotion into his character, as he experiences the mounting pressures of being a British Muslim. The final scene gives each character the opportunity to reflect on how the events have shaped their personalities and beliefs. Seeing the remorse in the face of each pushes forward another of Silver’s key themes – not allowing your surroundings to pressurise you into making prejudice comments and opinions. Baig’s final reflection aptly summarises Our Big Love Story – a true lump in the throat moment.

Silver’s writing handles difficult themes in a considerate manner, complemented by Robshaw’s direction. Even though the overall premise of the narrative is in regards to a horrific incident, this does not stop Silver incorporating comedy into specific points of the performance, ensuring the show remains powerful yet still entertaining. Our Big Love Story is a perfect example of how theatre can handle serious issues, continuing to raise questions about modern society.

 

 

★★★★☆

Our Big Love Story runs at The Hope Theatre until 7 April 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.