4 December 2013

Mucky Kid at Theatre503

I have seen some very good shows at Theate503 so far and this was easily the best of an impressive bunch.

At the centre of the play was the simple question of how we should treat people who did very bad things as children when they grow up. The seed for this was the case of Mary Bell, who was mentioned in passing but this was not her story. This was Mae's story.

Mae is full-in-the-face confident and hyperactive. The story revolves around her, as she wants it to.

The play started with teenager Mae and her friend lost in a field where they are found by two country bumpkins who obviously fancied their chances.

The four went for the evening and then back to one of the boys' houses. Drink, drugs and sex were involved, though there was nothing as shocking as the "adult warning" notices suggested there might be.

From the florid conversations we soon learnt that the girls had absconded from an open prison and later on we learnt why Mae had been incarcerated since the age of ten.

The play leaped forward a day and back to the prison were a recaptured Mae was asked to tell the truth about why she escaped and what happened when she did.

That took us back to a retelling of the night before only this time it was a different story. This ended with her back in the prison where she was asked again about what happened and so the story looped back to the previous day.

We went through this loop a few times learning more about Mae as we did so though we were never quite sure whether what we were seeing was the truth this time.

In these stories Mae's friend left her, we met a ten year old girl, we found out that the term "mucky kid" was given to Mae by her Mother and we learnt a great deal more about Mae, some of which helped to explain some of the things that had happened to her.

The play ended with a (relatively) long slow scene where the prison psychiatrist calmly extracted the truth from Mae. She cried and we were left in shock.

Several things made the play outstanding; the subject matter and the intelligent way in which it was treated, the clever looping structure of the narrative, the use of the small cast to play multiple roles including all of them playing the same role at different times, the neat but terrible ending, and the absolutely barnstorming performances by everybody in the cast.

I only see a couple of performances a year that make as much of an impact as this one did. Mucky Kid was utterly brilliant.

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