EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: MOUTHPIECE, Traverse Theatre
Seventeen-year-old Declan spends his evenings up the Salisbury Crags drawing pictures. This is where he meets Libby, a forty-six year-old playwright contemplating suicide. He literally pulls her back from the brink and after a rocky start, strike up an unlikely friendship.
It's clear from the beginning that Declan and Libby are from different backgrounds from their clothing and how they speak. Declan is articulate but punctuates his speech with profanity. Angus Taylor shines as Declan throughout as this tough, intelligent teenager. Shauna Macdonald is empathetic as Libby initially and you're almost rooting for some kind of romance between the pair.
One of the things that makes this play so exceptional is how many different aspects of Declan's life are shown. He's from a poor background and he's the sort that security guards keep an eye on, but he's also a devoted big brother to five-year-old Sian- affectionately dubbed 'the wee yin'. He's clever, funny and talented but to society and his stepdad, he's seen as a waster.
Libby sets out to tell Declan's story but it becomes her own. Celebrated for being a "voice of the voiceless" we see a middle-class woman hijacking the life of a working-class boy for her own gain.
Kieran Hurley's script packs a punch and Orla O'Loughlin's direction is superb. The format of the show is so unique and the fourth wall breaks to explain the techniques that are being used in the performance are excellent.
It feels all the more relevant during the festival as tourists, theatre-makers and audiences descend on Edinburgh for the month and ooh and ahh at the castle and the culture while the darker city of the city sits ignored alongside.
Mouthpiece is one of these rare pieces of theatre that makes you feel something in your gut. It's uncomfortable at times and completely gripping throughout- an essential watch.