Skip to main content

Mouthpiece

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

If genius steals, how do you split up the loot? That’s just one of the questions that Kieran Hurley pins to the wall in his new play for the Traverse, which dissects both the culture and class wars alongside the eternal contradictions of both. Under-achieving Edinburgh writer Libby is about to make the ultimate dramatic gesture when she is saved by Declan, a teenage boy from the housing schemes with a raw artistic talent that enables Libby to get her mojo back. Everything, alas, is material, especially Declan’s life.

The psycho-sexual tug of love that follows makes for the perfect final gift from the Traverse’s outgoing artistic director Orla O’Loughlin. Her production takes a daring leap through the fourth wall of Kai Fischer’s framed black-box set to question who exactly owns the stories that shape us. Stage-directions are projected onto this interior, both from Hurley’s actual play as well as Libby’s soon-to-be-devastating work-in-progress.

Lorn Macdonald and Neve McIntosh bring enough dynamic light and shade to Declan and Libby’s increasingly ferocious sparring, so things never feel heavy-handed in what initially looks like a gender-swapped Pygmalion or Educating Rita. Driven by Kim Moore’s burbling electronic score, Hurley takes things further, so the play becomes a wrestling match for the soul of a divided society in which art imitates life imitating art in a safe space where everyone likes a bit of rough.

While there are moments you wonder what any of this means outside the theatre world’s concerned but cosy bubble that those both making and watching the show exist inside, this is at least part of the play’s point. If a real-life Declan gate-crashed a real-life Libby’s moment of triumph as he does here, chances are he’d be out on his ear within seconds. Such are the terminally unresolved challenges Hurley raises in a show where every person in the room becomes complicit in using Declan and Libby’s stories for our own thrill-seeking ends.

The Herald, December 7th 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…