Cole Moreton narrates a touching, true story about two boys, Marc McCay and Martin Burton, who both become seriously ill and the impact this had on their two families. It’s based on a radio programme and a book with the same name, written by Moreton – who is a broadcaster, interviewer and journalist.
Set in the summer of 2003, most of the story takes place over a few days. Marc McCay is one of five children in a family living in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and he wants to follow his brother into premier league football. Meanwhile in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Martin Burton also likes to kick a ball around; he loves life and his ‘cuddlies.’ Neither family realise how inextricably linked their lives will become.
This show is about loss, grief and a search for hope. It’s about human kindness and resilience, about doing the right thing even when it costs, and how this can be a comfort in the end. And it’s about the NHS, the need for professionals to step in and take control when circumstances are too much for families to bear. Moreton has the insight to recognise that telling Marc and Martin’s story can be healing to both of the families involved, and will touch the hearts of many others; tragically, for both young men life was too short, but their parents were there to comfort one another.
Expect drama told second-hand, drama that slows the pace, rather than theatre. When the story was aired on the BBC, family members were present to tell their story in their own words, giving it an immediacy that the current production lacks.
However, the simplicity with which Moreton tells Martin and Marc’s story gives the show power and impact. As a journalist, Moreton knows the importance of accuracy, not only in relating the facts of the case but also in conveying emotion. He could talk about ethics, but he chooses not to; instead he lays bare various human dilemmas, and life-affirming decisions that need to be made in an instant. In the midst of grief, there is hope and sometimes heroism. I recommend this play.