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The Cost of You - A Love Story with a Twist

Lillian McGrath as Jo and Karen Evans as Bex. Photo courtesy of The Criterion Theatre.

The Cost of You by Andrew Sharpe. Playing at The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry from Wednesday 12 July – Saturday 15 July 2023. Running time 1 hour.

Review by Maxine Burns

The play, at its heart is a love story. A love that is still stigmatized. A love that, in this family could cause it to be torn apart. The Cost of You comes with a high price. Will it survive? Will it be worth the cost?

Tim, (Michael Hammond) his wife Jo, (Lillian McGrath) have been married, seemingly forever, and have been struggling with a tragic bereavement. Jo had been planning on leaving Tim, to set up home with her lover, Bex, (Karen Evans.) She reluctantly decides she must stay to help her husband and son recover from their loss.

Although we don’t see their son Rob, his presence is felt by his disapproval of what he considers to be Tim’s toxic masculinity, and his decision not to have any children himself in case he has inherited his father’s toxic traits.

The play is presented in reverse chronological order, and we see the ending first, running through to the beginning. This becomes a little confusing at some points, though catches up with itself thanks to the scene and time changing board placed on set.

Each scene tells a story in the life of Jo and Tim, of Jo and Bex, of the budding, though at times stormy relationship that they are trying to build through the turmoil around them.

Michael Hammond as Tim, Dammy Olaniyan as the waitress and Lillian McGrath as Jo. Photo courtesy of the Criterion Theatre.

It’s about family, acceptance – or not, and of course, guilt. Jo’s journey through the guilt and pain and the realization that she has spent too much of her life with a misogynistic man, a bully with little understanding of who she is, is long and painful.

On the one hand, she is desperate to keep her remaining family together but on the other can she face life without Bex, her love? Her emotions are in turmoil. Maybe it’s a crush, a fad, a phase? She must decide and soon.

Shout out to Lillian McGrath who plays Jo with wit and compassion, and also to Criterion newcomer, Dammy Olaniyan, who played a number of minor parts with humour and panache.

The play was directed by Christine Ingall who overcame the obstacles caused by the play being performed on the auditorium floor with no wings for stage changing. This was done with as little fuss as possible and even added to the atmosphere.

1 Yorum

13 Tem 2023

I thought it was great to see The Criterion showcasing original work from local playwright Andrew Sharpe and was intrigued by this back-to-front love story between two women.

I agree that Lillian McGrath handled the character of Jo with a mixture of power and vulnerability while Karen Evans while Karen Evans had the harder job of portraying the younger Bex.

I wasn't entirely convinced by the alleged bullying character of Tim, played by Michael Hammond, although is quieter tone was explained as the play evolved. Meanwhile newcomer Dammy Olaniyan had the freedom to explore all three minor roles.

This short piece took courage, ingenuity and virtually no props as all scenes are played out in the well of the theatre…

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