Sour Milk is a heart-breaking story following the lives of two queer friends navigating themselves through the 1980’s Aids epidemic.

AATMA Theatre welcomed ‘Sour Milk’ from the 27th-29th of September as part of Manchester’s Greater Manchester Fringe. The sold-out show, written and performed by Salford University alumni Abbey Hayes and Jonathan Mitchell, received a warm welcome from all.

The Kitchen sink drama centers on the relationship between two queer friends, Mark and Ange, exploring the effect living in a turbulent world has on their relationship.

Set in Ange’s one-bedroom flat above a chippy, the cosy yet confined setting evoked all that needed to be said about living in 1980’s Manchester. The friend’s repetitive existence controlled by their skint reality further highlighted the idea that their home is a haven, a place where the pair could truly be themselves.

Despite being two very different individuals, Mark and Ange complement one another greatly. Ange provides a sense of adulthood, maturity, and reality into Marks’s life, whereas he provides light and a good old moan at the end of a busy day.

Behind the façade of their relationship, we are presented with two people who find solace in another, a sense of home that goes beyond the four walls they live within.

Credit – Photographer/Videographer Harry Green

Sour Milk begins as a gritty northern comedy that progresses into a darker form of itself, taking us into a greater state of reality of the aids epidemic. Spotlighting the lives, the deadly disease stole and the heartbroken people that were left behind, Abbey Hayes and Jonathan Mitchell not only wrote a beautiful script but stunningly portrayed the characters, leaving no dry eyes.

The pairs complicated relationship, accelerated by Ange’s fear of losing Mark and his belief of invincibility to catching Aids, results in heartbreak.

Jonathan Mitchell provided a truly tear-jerking performance of a man faced with the reality of death. Cocooning himself in their one-bedroom flat, Mitchell flawlessly explores the shame and public persecution that came along with Marks ‘death sentence’, as well as the reality shock of no longer being able to freely live his life. It was truly heart-breaking to witness.

Credit – Photographer/Videographer Harry Green

Within a short 60 minutes, the creatives at Red Brick Theatre managed to depict a crucially important story, that was told with such ease.

I am unable not to mention the stunning performance that Abbey Hayes carried throughout. The depth of her portrayal of a young woman tormented by her past and now her present was deeply moving.

Sour Milk is a stunning reflection of a harrowing time. It’s northern grit, compliments its comedy hugely, if you’re not laughing your crying.

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