• Amy Toledano

Giving Up Marty presented by Motormouse Productions

Image courtesy of Lidia Crisafulli

What is It?

Giving Up Marty is an original piece by Karen Bartholomew that deconstructs the romanticism of adoption reunions by sharing with audiences just how life shattering it can be.

What is it about?

It's the 80's. Fun times, fun music, fun fashion. But, "it was a different time then"; a phrase we hear again and again throughout this play from the older characters as they try to explain and justify the past. Joel is a happy and successful eighteen year old. He is comfortable in his life and with his family, he is excited about travelling and exploring new things, and he has no interest in finding his birth parents. Until they come to find him. Joel's birth mother, Martha, and sister, Melissa, are the ones to seek him out. We soon learn, along with Joel, that they've done so to fill a void in their lives: the loss of Martha's eldest son. We watch as Joel learns more about the family and life he could have had if he had grown up as Marty. Unlike versions we see on TV, not all adoption reunions are joyous. Not everyone wants to find their birth families and face the brutal truths of their blood line, for everything is not always what it seems. Joel learns this quite rapidly as he sees the council estate he could have lived on, the phyiscal abuse he could have endured, the lack of experiences he could have had, and the health problems he could inherit. The audience travels with Joel as he faces who he is, who Marty is, and who Joel wants to become now that he knows Marty. It is a struggle, for sure, and ultimately Joel is able to separate from Marty and continue on his own path.

How did it make me feel?

This play made me feel proud of the playwright for telling this story. It cannot be easy to share such a private matter with the world, especially one that is so personal. The way Bartholomew writes makes one truly connect with the characters and with the story, even those who do not share these experiences. Why? Because Bartholomew writes about love. If there is one take away is that love carries us through life and Joel has a lot of it, even if it is misguided.

Danny Hetherington plays Joel with such conviction that the audience is hurting and thriving along with him.

Dorothy Lawrence as Martha and Natasha Atkinson as Melissa portray their characters in such a way that it draws a spotlight on the mental stress, pain and anguish that families can feel in their search. Lawrence's performance is truly heartbreaking as we watch her suffer with knowing what she has done, admitting it, yet still living in denial. Lawrence plays Martha as being strong in her belief that she has the right to know and love Marty and it is difficult to watch because we know she gave that right up eighteen years ago, but we also feel empathy for her because she just wants her son.

Anything else?

Giving Up Marty is produced by Motormouse Productions and directed creatively and honestly by Annie Sutton. The play highlights a real-life issue that everyone knows about but does not know enough about. It is important to keep telling stories like this and giving light to those who feel they may be overlooked.

Natasha x

Giving Up Marty is playing in the Crescent, VAULT Festival, until the 12th March 2020.

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