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Love upstages all

Homelessness drama highlights the need for compassion, writes Linda McTurk

The residents have not given up showing love to each other

TENSIONS are rising among the strangers forced to live in temporary accommodation. The raw reality of homelessness comes under the spotlight in Performance Live: Love, a film adaptation of a play by Alexander Zeldin, broadcast on BBC Two tonight (Saturday 8 December).

Dean and the heavily pregnant Emma have two school-aged children, Jason and Paige. The family were forced into temporary accommodation after their landlord unexpectedly raised their rent.

Colin is a middle-aged man caring full-time for his elderly mum Barbara, who suffers with incontinence. They have lived in temporary accommodation for 12 months.

Two refugees, a Sudanese woman and a Syrian man, are also living in the space.

The residents are desperate to leave, but they are not given any alternatives by the council. Their relationships become fraught as the reality of the situation sinks in and Christmas gets closer. Emma (Janet Etuk) loses her temper with the Sudanese woman (Mimi Malaz Bashir) about her using one of her mugs without permission. Colin (Nick Holder) shouts at his mum (Anna Calder-Marshall) in frustration when she begins to talk nostalgically. Dean (Luke Clarke) yells at his daughter after a stressful phone call with the council.

But despite their adverse circumstances, the residents have not given up showing love to each other. The Sudanese woman apologises to Emma about using her mug. Colin gently washes his mum’s hair and calls her a ‘golden princess’. And Dean and Paige decorate the dining area with a string of Christmas lights.

Speaking about the original theatre production of the story, actor David Schwimmer, executive producer of Performance Live: Love, says: ‘Plays illuminate certain social problems and illnesses that are happening in society. They allow people to actually feel the experience of what it’s like to be another person in another circumstance.’

We can all find it helpful when people show us empathy. We feel valued when someone takes the time to listen to our story. Whatever we might be going through – whether it is unemployment, bereavement or illness – it can make a big difference if someone is willing to understand our situation.

Christians have found that Jesus is someone who wants to hear our story. Although divine, he took on human form and experienced life as we do. The Bible says: ‘Of his own free will he gave up all that he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness’ (Philippians 2:7 Good News Bible).

During his time on earth, Jesus showed his raw love for us through the suffering that he endured. Although he did nothing wrong, he was ostracised, persecuted and beaten. His hands and feet were nailed to a cross, and he was left utterly alone in his suffering.

Jesus willingly sacrificed himself and was raised to life so that humankind’s relationship with God could be restored. He did it so that, if we trust him, we can experience his presence and know his empathy in our problems.

His offer of love is open to us all.

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