Mouthpiece review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘triumphant return for Kieran Hurley’s astute play’
Kieran Hurley’s play makes a triumphant return to the Traverse for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Premiering in December last year and enjoying a run at the Soho Theatre, Orla O’Loughlin’s assured production has a new cast for this homecoming run.
Hurley’s play asks some essential questions about art and ownership, truth and storytelling, and it does so in the form of a two-hander that is in and of itself emotionally engaging and deftly written.
After a chance meeting on Salisbury Crags, playwright Libby (Shauna Macdonald), who at 40, has ceased to be commissioned, develops a friendship with teenage Declan (Angus Taylor).
They live in the same city but their lives are worlds apart. He’s grown up hard, has known emotional and financial poverty, and is initially bewildered by her. But gradually they become close. He confides in her. She thinks he has genuine artistic talent but is also determined that she should be the one to tell his story.
Is she giving him a voice or mining his life for material? Again and again the play invites us to question where the lines lie.
The acting throughout is superb. Taylor is exceptionally good, radiating frustration, unease and anger, but also youth and vulnerability.
Macdonald’s role is more restrained but she’s equally strong at evoking the complexity of the character, and the interplay between, the slow-flowering trust and the eventual sense of betrayal, is beautifully judged.
The whole thing is audacious and acutely self-questioning, knotty, provocative, and astute in its exploration of the cannibalistic act of writing.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.