‘Maisie’ is a short (45 minute) but powerful monologue about fatherhood, divorce, love, mental health, guilt and grief, written by Roger Goldsmith. He has a created an emotionally well balanced and sensitive piece about the devastation of losing a child, told from the perspective of the father.
Steve Blacker gives a heartbreaking and sympathetic performance as Dan, who has not allowed a nasty divorce to taint his relationship with his daughter Maisie. There is genuine beauty and love in the way he speaks about her, and the joy he takes in the time he gets with her, even if the price is being verbally abused by his ex-wife.
Dan seems like a really nice man. This is further underscored by his friendship with a distressed man he meets in a cafe in Islington. A man who fears for the mental health of his wife, and what that might mean for the safety of his son. Dan doesn’t have to get involved, but he feels compelled to help.
The monologue plays with time as Dan jumps between the two story threads, and both are absorbing and emotionally resonant. However, when these two threads meet, I found myself jarred out of the moment. It seemed so unlikely. These geographically separate stories colliding, didn’t ring true to me, which was a shame because otherwise I would have been totally hooked. In a way I’m grateful for the distraction, as it spared those around me from seeing me ugly cry.
It is after this moment of crisis that Blacker shines, his performance is so convincing, Dan’s grief is palpable. Gwenan Bain’s stripped back staging of the show ensures there are no unnecessary distractions, and her direction keeps us focused on Dan’s raw and eloquent emotional journey. His struggles to cope are laid bare for all to see, and sympathise with. His inability to accept help is both painfully relatable and topical, at a time when the suicide rate among men is such a concern.
‘Maisie’ runs at the Bread and Roses until the 7th December.