Mouthpiece | Traverse Theatre CompanyLeft – Shauna Macdonald and Angus Taylor. Cover – Angus Taylor. Photos – Lara Cappelli

Fresh from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this gripping and candid Australian Premiere is a most fitting exclusive addition to this year’s Adelaide Festival.

Libby (Shauna Macdonald) is a desperate, failing 41 year old writer who is saved from the actual and figurative precipice by Declan (Angus Taylor), a lonely 17 year old from a disturbed and unsettled family background in a blighted area of the city. Consequently the two form an initially fragile, and increasingly intense relationship as Libby sees Declan’s story as the germ of a play, which might transform his life, and help her own career. Meanwhile the volatile Declan soon resents being exploited for her purposes, as she aspires to be his mouthpiece or the voice for his “class”, because, as he exclaims, maybe “the voiceless have a voice for themselves and might want to use it! “

The play is a salient juxtaposition of class, inter-generational, cultural and expectational differences, between the middle class, rule-bound writer – ”everyone has a story”, and the down-to-Earth, tempestuous youth (“Na, some of us just have lives, which don’t just end where you say they do” – or words to that effect).

Declan’s words, from the actual mouth of Angus Taylor, were too often obfuscated by a thick and rapid Scots slums accent, so that many of his undoubted gems were lost to an audience less attuned to the broad Scottish vernacular. Nevertheless, he still shows that he is an outstanding and masterful actor, perfectly teamed in this gripping and sophisticated two-hander with the accomplished and equally superb Macdonald. The clear and polished direction by Orla O’Loughlin, with subtle sound (Kim Moore) and lighting (Kai Fischer) produces a stark, honest, even savage, but powerful and challenging piece of theatre.

The relationship between these two eventually is destroyed “from the inside out” as the playwright himself explains. The final irreconcilability is carried into the present with a momentous naturalism in the denouement, which powerfully emphasises the ethical questions we are left pondering, after an exhilarating ride, evoking a well-deserved standing ovation.

Adelaide Festival with Traverse Theatre Company (Scotland)
by Kieran Hurley

Director Orla O'Loughlin

Venue: Odeon Theatre | 175 The Parade, Norwood SA
Dates: 6 March – 14 March 2020


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