This newest production by the National Theatre Scotland and Birds of Paradise Theatre places the whole industry, theatre and film, under scrutiny. Asking the question of representation it addresses face on the issues surrounding casting abled bodied actors as disabled characters. It deals with such an important subject through song, humour and clever dialogue.
Following an amateur dramatics groups’ quest for the golden trophy of the one-act festival, the production challenges the audience to think about theatre from a new perspective. Basing their play on the Oscar-winning My Left Foot the amateur group has all they need to qualify for extra inclusive points… bar the elusive disabled actor. As the audience cringe through exceedingly painful outrageous statements about disability and ludicrous assumptions the production gains momentum in its storyline. Chris, Matthew Duckett as the conveniently placed CP sufferer, is continuously overlooked by the actors until they are informed they can no longer use their Daniel Day-Lewis lookalike, John McLarnon. With a number of love triangles thrown in, the stage is set for an extraordinarily funny, thought-provoking production with an original storyline.
With continued tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout, rest assured you’ll feel uneasy with some of the laughs this production draws from you. The songs were all equally indecently funny, a particular favourite, if it’s even PC to write, was Spasticity. This title completely summarises the type of humour you can expect from a production campaigning for better awareness and inclusivity of disabled actors. The addition of Natalie MacDonald as the integrated BSL interpreter and audio description from the pianist Gavin Whitworth further reinforced its position as a production for all. Their presence was so insignificant to all abled audience members and yet must have been greatly appreciated by other audience members that you ask why there isn’t a move to provide more such integration in other productions.
As a new musical it had proved its value time and time again within its hour fifteen slot and I really hope they take it on a tour across the country. It was a refreshing plotline with catchy new songs, albeit ones I don’t think I could sing down the street without context being repeatedly explained…