From the opening scene to the final moment, Mouthpiece is beautifully crafted from every possible angle. Kieran Hurley’s blindingly fresh script is brought into startling, heart-breaking, hilarious life by not only the captivating performances of its talented actors – which are blisteringly authentic – but also the sleek, meaningful set design, and effortlessly subtle music and lighting. Every aspect of this play is dripping with quality, and it all hangs together in perfect equilibrium. Despite consistently being highly emotive, no emotional moment is ever over-egged, and often tragedy gives way to comedy in a second. The audience is tossed between sobs, belly laughs, and breathless, wide-eyed suspense.
The script deals with the harsh realities of struggling families, class divisions, the need for a sense of identity and validation, the morality of poaching others’ pain in the name of art, and about feeling so bad you want to kill yourself, wherever you’re from. Yet somehow, Hurley has fun with it, and so do the performers, and so does the audience. Its playful self-awareness is part of what makes this show so exceptional. The fourth wall is broken in the opening scene, and repeatedly throughout, with the writer character, Libby, literally outside the frame of the set, commenting on the rules of structuring a story. The writer and her subject, Declan, enter into a battle of voices, mouthpiece vs. mouth, fighting to be heard over one another at its climactic end. This is intelligent, investigative theatre at its most entertaining. Go and see it.