I love you mum, I promise I won’t die by Mark Wheeler

Naomi Holcombe
Sunday, September 1, 2019

A hard-hitting tale about the dangers of drug taking. Published by Bloomsbury

I love you mum, I promise I won't die
I love you mum, I promise I won't die

I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of Mark Wheeller. His plays are often outdated and tend to patronise young people, who are nowadays so much more savvy and streetwise. Wheeller's latest play, I love you mum, I promise I won't die, is quite different, however, and I found it extremely touching. Although it is similar in themes to his other works, it's a very literal piece – the way in which the words of real-life friends and family are crafted into the text makes it so eloquent and beautiful. It's about a teenager, Dan Spargo-Mabbs, who dies taking MDMA on a night out. Wheeller used transcripts from Dan's friends and family covering his life, experiences and the fateful night on which he died.

I think this is a very brave and poignant play, that reads so honestly. It would also be interesting to see how different directors would approach it – there are a variety of staging choices that could bring this tragic story to life. The title Wheeller chose is particularly haunting – they are the last words Dan spoke to his mother before he left home, and they really make an impact.

Any teenager watching this play would be touched by its message. It's powerful, not only because it's truthful, but because of the hard-hitting words used by real people that convey their devastation and loss. I think it would make anyone stop and reflect not only on Dan's actions, but theirs too.