Where is Love introduces us to Shelly, born in Bradford in 1959 – a working class girl who dreams of getting a job in an office so she can afford kitten heels and a blazer. When she catches the eye of the local rebel without a cause in the pub, it’s not long before she’s riding pillion on his motorbike, then not long before she’s pregnant.  Her sweetheart then turns sour and she and her children are trapped in a cycle of violent domestic abuse.

Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company specialise in creating verbatim theatre with local working class communities. It’s easy in verbatim theatre for the words to drown everything else out but this team have created a beautifully rounded production: a one woman show, adeptly presented by Maeve Brannon, intercut with recordings of the voice of the real Sheila on whose story the play is built. Brannon is an effortless storyteller, establishing a lovely rapport with her audience, conveying all of Shelly’s twinkle in her eye alongside the horror of her abusive relationship . It’s told with a lightness of touch that evokes Shelly’s grinding despair without wallowing.

Director Grace Wilkinson makes excellent use of the compact stage with just enough imaginatively employed set to provide visual variety throughout. Writer Jennifer Johnson has created a respectful and considered version of Sheila’s story that artfully balances the things Shelly loves in her life alongside a horribly convincing window into her mind in her darkest moments.

Don’t be deterred by the gloomy topic. Real Sheila tells us that throughout her difficult times, she held on to her sense of humour and Johnson’s script is no different. The show closes with Sheila encouraging anyone in the audience experiencing anything similar to talk to someone and thereby, find the strength to seek help. Shelly’s story ends happily so we can hope Sheila’s did too. This is a necessary piece of work with an important message of hope that deserves an audience.