Review: Mouthpiece

A gripping discussion of ownership and exploitation

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Photo by Lara Cappelli
Published 17 Mar 2020

A stage. A frame. A woman ready to end it all, saved by a young boy with an entirely different lived experience.

Failing playwright Libby introduces Declan to a whole new world of art, creation and expression. In an attempt to bring his poverty-stricken story to others, Libby, played by Shauna Macdonald, begins writing it into a play. What begins as a mutually beneficial friendship descends into a classist power-play as Libby tries to write Declan’s ending – as many have tried to do in Declan’s life.

As Libby is trying to show the world of art to Declan, it begs the question if Mouthpiece itself is performed in a bubble which shuts underprivileged voices out of the theatre. Who would benefit from seeing this work? Those who can relate to the characters within it, or those who are in a position to improve the lives of those portrayed?

Angus Taylor is enthralling as young Declan, with his broad Edinburgh accent and localised slang. His tender moments describing his art and his younger sister show a beautiful warmth, and his naïvety around accessing art spaces is heart-wrenching. Macdonald is both Libby and the narrator, punctuating the show itself with descriptions of plot points, narrative structure and playwriting which blurs the lines between the play we are watching and the play Libby is writing.

Kieran Hurley has created a deeply moving, meta-work which begins to unravel important themes of storytelling and exploitation. Moving this into school spaces and into suburban areas would be an important move forward in increasing accessibility of the arts.