Susan and Darren
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 17–Sat 20 Oct
Reality television may dominate the small screen, but seldom has it found its way into the theatre. And although the creators of Susan and Darren find the term ‘Reality Theatre’ too simplistic for their innovative approach, there are undoubtedly parallels to be found.
Exactly as the show portrays, Susan and Darren really are mother and son, they really do hold house parties filled with buffets and disco tracks, and they really are a mine of memorable anecdotes. So when Manchester-based dancer, Darren Pritchard suggested to Quarantine theatre company that they build a show around him and his 52-year-old mum, Susan, they immediately saw the potential.
‘Darren asked if we would consider making a show with him and his mum,’ explains Quarantine director, Richard Gregory. ‘And normally we don’t respond to those kind of requests, because the work comes from us. But we knew Susan and Darren so well, and knew they had extraordinary stories to tell and life experiences to share, so we said yes.’
The show toured the UK in 2006 to critical and public acclaim, and is back on the road this year. With Susan, who usually works as a cleaner, taking time off from her day job to join her son on stage. ‘The show makes people smile but it also makes them cry,’ says Gregory. ‘And once the performance is over it immediately becomes a party. About a third of the food for the party gets prepared during the show itself, by the audience helping Susan make sandwiches while she talks.’