by Philip Osment
Seventeen-year-old Luke runs away to London – away from homophobic playground slurs, headlines that scream ‘Don’t Teach Our Children To Be Gay’ and a family who wouldn’t understand him – to Uncle Martin, who he once saw with his arms around another man at a march. In the capital, Mark is sacked because of fears about colleagues working with ‘someone like him’. His boyfriend, Selwyn, faces being beaten up both by the police and at home by his own stepbrother. Meanwhile, Debbie battles with her son, who doesn’t want to live with her and her girlfriend. And retired piano teacher Miss Rosenblum – who once found refuge in this country from a terror that swept away half her family in 1930s Vienna – has seen this sort of hatred and fear before.
Soon, these individual stories – of first loves and old flames, alliances and abandonment, missed opportunities and new chances – intertwine to paint a vivid picture of Eighties Britain.
This Island’s Mine was originally performed by Gay Sweatshop in 1988. Now, three decades after the introduction of Section 28 banning positive representations of homosexuality, Philip Osment’s passionate and lyrical play, of outsiders, exiles and refugees, is all too resonant.