Kieran Hurley's Mouthpiece is 'a vigorous examination of how appropriation and exploitation threatens authenticity'

Kieran Hurley's Mouthpiece is 'a vigorous examination of how appropriation and exploitation threatens authenticity and authority'

credit: Stewart Armstrong

Glasgow playwright's latest work engages fearlessly with an intriguing subject matter

Kieran Hurley's career as a playwright has been marked by a fiery engagement with serious issues that never lose the personal perspective within political theatre. Mouthpiece, the last production to be directed by Orla O'Loughlin as artistic director of the Traverse, takes a typically intriguing subject and challenges the creative process of art itself. An uneasy friendship between a working-class lad and a woman who wants to tell his story becomes a vigorous examination of how appropriation and exploitation threatens authenticity and authority.

'Mouthpiece is essentially a story about two people, from very different worlds, who are both quite desperately lost in their own way when they meet,' Hurley says. 'For each of them, the relationship awakens something positive and new in their sense of self, in their own story – until what they need from each other becomes too much, and the power dynamics of the relationship begin to tear it apart.'

Although he adds that it is a love story, Hurley is aware that the question of privilege and the right to make art has become a culture preoccupation. 'It's something which the theatre industry is beginning to tentatively address more I think,' he says, 'though it really does feel like the beginning of a conversation. There is a hell of a lot of work to do.' Since Hurley is recognised as one of the leading new generation of writers – and performers – his fearlessness in bringing up the issue, however, suggests that, for the Traverse, theatre is still the place for the big ideas to be discussed.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 1–Sat 22 Dec.

Mouthpiece

A young man saves a woman's life on the Salisbury Crags, sparking a friendship complicated by class, culture and privilege. Written by Kieran Hurley and directed by Orla O'Loughlin.

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