REVIEW: Mum. Can You Hear Me?, Living Record Festival

Inspired by the horrific story of the migrants who died in the lorry which brought them to the UK in 2019 is chilling but doesn’t feel as though it covers the issue as deeply as it could.

Bernadett Szabo’s chillingly atmospheric and haunting audio piece explores the true cost of doing whatever it takes to try and get a chance of a new life in a different country.

Told through the eyes of a young woman in the back of a lorry, whose increasing battle for breath is a constant reminder that this is a story with a deeply tragic ending. Throughout it all you hear her fear in her voice as she speaks of her hopes for her future to her mum in her mind. It is heartbreaking story to be recounted.

With the help of a soundscape that effectively surrounds you, making the audience feel as though they are living the experience with her, it feels very eery and sets the horror of the scene well.

However, it does become repetitive in the way in which she speaks: the word cold is used a lot for example – which I’m sure is very true, but constantly repeating similar sentiments throughout can make it lose its meaning slightly, in turn making it difficult to concentrate.

While by having one frightened person’s thoughts and voice being the centre offers a firm focus for the audio drama, it would have added more depth had we heard from some of the others trapped with her and about the other lives being lost in this terrible way. This in turn would make the piece feel as though it is exploring the issue at the heart with even more insight.

This being said, there is plenty of heartbreaking moments – particularly when she is recounting happy childhood memories or when she is planning out the future that tragically she will never have. This quiet and reflective moments really bring home the reality of her situation in a horrific way. It is as sensitively done as it could be.

Mum. Can you Hear Me? is certainly a story that deserves to be told, but it needs more detail and insight to make it even more powerful. As it is, it is still a thoughtful and sensitively created piece of audio drama.

By Emma Clarendon

Mum. Can You Hear Me? is available to listen to as part of the Living Record Festival until the 23rd February.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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