Angel by Zalie Burrow

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Angel by Zalie Burrow. Dir. Cherry Cookson. Perf. Claire Skinner, Jamie Glover. Wireless Theatre Company, June 2015. Available from

Mary (Claire Skinner) is in her forties and about to have her first child. The birth is a difficult one, involving quite a lot of pain which Mary finds difficult to endure, despite the midwife's (Beth Eyre's) encouragement.

Eventually the child is born and christened Angel. Mary gives it all the love and attention she possibly can, so much so that she neglects her husband Ted (Jamie Glover) who hitherto has been accustomed to receiving well-cooked dinners of stew and bread and butter pudding each Friday. Ted feels left out; it looks as if the marriage is in trouble as a result.

Suddenly Mary notices that her baby has two mysterious growths on its back. She goes to the local doctor (Andrew Macbean) who assures her that nothing is amiss; this is quite normal for an angelic baby. Reassured, she returns home and finds her child ready to fly out of the window up to the stars.

The scene abruptly changes to the hospital once more, where Mary is still groaning in pain, and the story takes a far more sinister turn as we understand precisely what the link between the baby and an angel actually represents.

Told as a series of first person narratives by Mary and Ted, "Angel" looks at how the birth of a child affects most marriages, especially those which hitherto have become accustomed to particular routines. Cherry Cookson's production also concentrates on the ways in which human beings try - and often fail - to deal with pain. Even when they go to the doctor for succor, they often find that the medical profession is either unable or unwilling to help them. They are often left entirely alone to cope with adverse situations, for good or for evil.

A poignant drama, with vivid music by Isabel Herschmann evoking the mood of the piece, "Angel" is certainly uncomfortable listening, but author Burrow nonetheless views her two protagonists sympathetically.