THEATRE | PREVIEWS
P H O T O :
POLITICAL THEATRE MOUTHPIECE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 1–Sat 22 Dec
Kieran Hurley’s career as a playwright has been marked by a fiery engagement with serious issues that never lose the personal perspective within political theatre. Mouthpiece, the last production to be directed by Orla O’Loughlin as artistic director of the Traverse, takes a typically intriguing subject and challenges the creative process of art itself. An uneasy friendship between a working-class lad and a woman who wants to tell his story becomes a vigorous examination of how appropriation and exploitation threatens authenticity and authority.
‘Mouthpiece is essentially a story about two people, from very different worlds, who are both quite desperately lost in their own way when they meet,’ Hurley says. ‘For each of them, the relationship awakens something positive and new in their sense of self, in their own story – until what they need from each other becomes too much, and the power dynamics of the relationship begin to tear it apart.’
Established as a playwright capable of addressing both the
personal and political by works such as Rantin’, Hitch and recent Fringe success Square Go, Hurley realises that the boundary between the two is rarely solid. ‘A lot of it really comes from me wrestling with my own class confusion in my own identity.’
Although he adds that Mouthpiece is a love story, Hurley is aware that the question of privilege and the right to make art has become a cultural preoccupation. ‘It's something which the theatre industry is beginning to tentatively address more I think,’ he says, ‘though it really does feel like the beginning of a conversation. There is a hell of a lot of work to do.’
Since Hurley is recognised as one of the leading new generation of writers – and performers – his fearlessness in bringing up the issue, however, suggests that, for the Traverse, theatre is still the place for the big ideas to be discussed. (Gareth K Vile)
D A V D M O N T E T H H O D G E
FESTIVAL CHRYSALIS Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 15–Sat 17 Nov MUSICAL KINKY BOOTS Edinburgh Playhouse, Mon 10 Dec–Sat 5 Jan
PANTO MAMMY GOOSE Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 27 Nov–Sun 6 Jan
A curated programme of work created by young people, Chrysalis is a festival that celebrates excellence within youth theatre and presents a series of examinations of contemporary society. From Junges Ensemble Marabu’s There is a Globe Stuck in my Throat, a look at the massive disparity between the rich and poor, to the use of non- binary testimonials in 147 Hz Can't Pass, Chrysalis is a bracing reminder that engaged theatre is not only the domain of established companies.
Shaking The Habitual, from Platform Young Company, is a new multi-faceted performance, integrating elements of language, sound and movement, which asks wider questions about how the audience perceive the world and if they can change their collective mindset in order to improve everyday living.
Meanwhile, Noise from Camden Youth Theatre is a theatre gig which aims to provide an alternative to the city's constant noise and the bombardment of information in our 24-hour culture.
These productions all promise to interrogate issues which impact on youth on a global scale. So much for the lazy stereotype of young people being apathetic, navel-gazing 'snowflakes'. (Lorna Irvine)
122 THE LIST 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019
Despite an unlikely setting – Northampton – and its origins as a musical adaptation of the 2005 movie of the same name, Kinky Boots has become one of theatre’s surprise successes, charming audiences with its romantic tale of shoe-inspired glamour. Based on a true story, Charlie Price struggles to
maintain his late father's success in the famous Price shoe factory, until inspiration strikes in the unlikely form of drag queen Lola. The result is a highly successful hit musical, with three Olivier Awards under its heels. Kinky Boots manages to bring an explicitly camp and queer sensibility into the mainstream musical, with songs from 80s legend Cyndi Lauper.
‘Every year the Tron panto brings with it something fresh and exciting,’ say musical director Ross Brown. With pantomime king Johnny McKnight on directing, writing and performing duties, 2018’s Mammy Goose continues the Tron’s run of pop-culture savvy, subversive and witty yuletide productions that manage to pay tribute to tradition while adding a contemporary sass and a gallus wit. The story is a familiar favourite – McKnight’s
Mammy has to choose between eternal youth or friendship – and the cast includes familiar faces from previous years’ festivities. As composer and musical director, Brown is the presence in the pit that keeps the show swinging and the songs sparkling.
Combining an aspirational storyline with massive Having been involved since 2009, and now on
pop hits, the musical returns for a huge UK tour that takes in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Starring Kayi Ushe as Lola, Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie and Paula Lane (Coronation Street) as Lauren, it has a superb cast. With a book by Tony Award-winning Harvey Fierstein, direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell (a two-time Tony recipient) and sassy songs by the irrepressible Lauper, it's destined to sashay proud. More than just a jukebox singalong approach, it's a moving, life-affirming tale with a twist, and a message about tolerance at its core. (Lorna Irvine) his sixth seasonal celebration as musical director, Brown admits he can’t wait for Christmas. ‘There is always a great atmosphere both on and off stage. I enjoy being a part of something original and working alongside a cracking team of people.’ But Brown knows that there is always a secret ingredient. ‘I love the enthusiasm and unpredictability of a Tron audience, some of whom you recognise year in, year out,’ he says. ‘Everyone gets into the Christmas spirit and is up for a good laugh. Bring on this year!’ (Gareth K Vile)