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Review | The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me | Hope Mill Theatre | 25/09/2022

When I saw that the title of this one-person show contained multiple character names, I had some trepidation. Especially as a one-person show can either be awesome or awful, and rarely anywhere in-between. Luckily Hope Mill Theatre have once again played host to something truly special, with ‘The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me’. In actual fact, there is no Aunty Mandy, but I won’t spoil that one!

Written and performed by the insanely talented Rob Ward, the story follows young suburban gay guy Dom. Liking to think himself as some sort of social media influencer, he looks for acceptance clinging on to the ‘likes’ he gets whilst longing for more. Inexperienced in every sense, he would love nothing more than to live a fabulous gay life in the city, but his social anxiety prevents this. His life is turned upside down when he meets his local MP who gives him the attention and acceptance that he couldn’t find on social media. However, as he questions subsequent happenings, not all is as rosy as it seems.

This thought-provoking production addresses sensitive subjects such as coercive control, grooming and consent in a clever and engaging way. Throughout the entire 75 minutes, Ward had the audience captivated with his encapsulation of each and every character. Whether with the simple kick of a leg or slumping in the chair, at no point did the audience need to question which of the characters Ward was portraying. Each character was expertly written and performed. I even recognised versions of some from my own experiences, not least the small-minded country folk and controlling predators! By the end of the show, I felt emotional and unashamedly moved.

It wasn’t just down to the acting alone that made the show work. Will Monks’ lighting design really helped elevate the show. Not least finishing the show in an almost uncomfortably long blackout, forcing the audience to question our protagonists’ closing words.

Do we believe his words or is Dom just trying to convince himself? I’m still debating that one. What isn’t up for debate however is that this was an amazing and important piece of theatre. Tackling such sensitive subjects with dark humour isn’t easy, but Ward has achieved this in this gripping one-person play. Although an important LGBT+ story, the themes are relatable beyond the queer community, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this play to any theatre fan.

After enjoying a successful run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, ‘The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me’ is now on a UK tour. See below for where you can catch it, you won’t regret it.


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