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Armchair Reviewers Club - Round up of Week 7 (Mushy: Lyrically Speaking)

Hello, and welcome back to another week of Armchair reviews. This week we watched Rifco Theatre’s Mushy: Lyrically Speaking.

The production is based around Mushy, a young man with a debilitating stammer, who finds himself at the centre of a television documentary. The show explores the magical moment from the Channel 4 series Educating Yorkshire, as well as fame that quickly followed for Mushy.

I remember this documentary so well, and the moment between Mushy and Mr Burton really touched me when first watching it, so I was really excited to see the full story play out. Here are some initial thoughts from our reviewers:

‘I really enjoyed the layers of the piece. Not only were we getting an interesting alternative side from the TV documentary, but we were getting a piece about a mother and teenager relationship, the difficulties faced when being an outsider or feeling alone, along with a reflection on British Asian communities. Lots of themes to think on.’
Jo via email

‘Ammi, the mother, was the standout star of this piece. A comical character at the start of the piece, but she slowly turns into a character full of anxiety, feeling alone, feeling the pressures of stigma from her community. This is capped off with a monologue toward the end of the piece, which highlights the struggles she has gone through in her life. A truly moving and thought provoking moment.’
Lilly via email

Rifco Theatre Company specialise in touring productions which highlight and celebrate British Asian contemporary experiences, and it is wonderful to see these stories explored in such an interesting and eye-opening way.

‘The set was particularly enjoyable to see. The bright colours of the speakers and lockers. All based around sound and school: very much Mushy’s world.’
Graham via Email

I loved this point about the set design, it was certainly one of my most enjoyed elements. Eleanor Bull’s set design is both striking and wonderfully efficient and helped create plenty of different spaces. I enjoyed watching as each locker was opened or moved to add a new element to the design.

Here are some more thoughts from your reviews:

‘Great moments. The opening interplay between Mushy and his teacher, Mr Burton, with mocking noises off and the tension of waiting, waiting … expecting that the teacher might do the same. And after Mushy failed to make his speech, his rap-style ‘inside-outside‘ monologue: “We just want to show people that we’re normal not different… don’t ask us if we’re hurting, can you put plastic on a person?… leave it on don’t take it off I have to keep pretending”. From then on the play accelerated into realism, with pathos and power.

The exaggerated style worked well sometimes too; such as Mr Burton singing Elvis for his new-born daughter. At other times it stumbled and confused. The teacher playing aunty in his red robes, the boxer shorts - too much of the fame scenes that didn’t quite ring true. Perhaps because all the while Mushy’s fame was developing the play skipped over Mr Burton’s lost child and played too stereotypically with Ammi. All that uncertainty was swept aside in the pace and authenticity of Act 2 though. The play found its voice, as Mushy found his.’
Alison via Email

‘A touching insight into this wonderful story about a teacher pupil relationship. The cast of three do a sensational job in creating a piece with humour and a lot of heart. It took me a long time to work out that actually there actually were only 3 of them.

The music was a fun mode for Mushy to express his thoughts and feelings, however I would have liked a little more angst, a little more frustration, a little more edge to the music. However, I did enjoy his awkward teenage performance – I fully believed he was a teenager.

The standout scene for me was the moment of silence towards the end of the piece. Mushy joins his mother in a moment of prayer. I truly beautiful moment of Mushy and his mother coming together. In a production full of music and noise, this moment was particularly touching.’
Graham via Email

Thanks all for your wonderful comments and thoughts. It’s always interesting to hear.

Next week’s production, we are going to look at is Neil McPherson’s production of It’s Easy To Be Dead. It’s a production based on poetry and letters of Charles Sorley and his experiences during the First World War. You can watch it here:

As always make sure to share what you think either via social media or by e-mailing [email protected]

Take Care Reviewers!

Dan Whateley
Programming and Events Coordinator