Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley ©

Traverse Theatre Company


It’s rare indeed for a local play to blow the international competition out of the water in Edinburgh at festival time, but in 2019 that’s what Kieran Hurley’s sensational two-hander did.

Libby, a middle-aged, middle-class playwright has not picked up a pen in years and, roundly rejected by London’s artistic establishment, spends her time brooding in the rarefied environs of Edinburgh’s New Town. Declan is a 17-year-old struggling with a volatile home life in a deprived Edinburgh housing estate, but in possession of a remarkable artistic talent.

When Libby’s despair drives her to a literal cliff edge, their lives collide.

But if you think you’ve heard this story of despair and the power of an unlikely friendship before, Mouthpiece is way, way ahead of you.

As their relationship strengthens and develops, Libby decides Declan’s story must be told. And sure, it doesn’t hurt that it also might reboot her career…

From its startling opening, through to its final devastating showdown, this audacious, gripping and self-questioning play invites us to probe where the lines should be drawn. It’s very funny, very moving and will have your head spinning with the knotty ethical issues it provokes long after you leave the theatre.

★★★★ Evening Standard