Mouthpiece: Queensland Theatre's Punchy New Show
Mouthpiece is a story of class, privilege and power, raising important questions about theatre itself, the stories that connect us, and when inspiration becomes theft.
On Saturday night, I braved the thunderstorms and trekked to QPAC. Inside the Playhouse, I waited eagerly with the buzzing, half-capacity audience for Mouthpiece to begin.
Starring Jayden Popik in his Queensland Theatre debut as Declan and Christen O’Leary as Libby, Mouthpiece explores an unlikely friendship through two genuine, relatable and flawed-yet-forgivable characters. Libby is a writer with severe writer’s block, wanting to give it all up. Declan, a teenager, finds his escape from his rough home-life through drawing. The title comes from one of Declan’s drawings, showing the cliffs, the city, his little sister, and a huge mouth in the sky ready to swallow them all up. Told through wit and humour, the story shows how Declan and Libby connect through art and writing.
A cliff. Night. A woman stands on the edge. But this cliff belongs to Declan. It’s his only safe space. This is how the play opens. Declan saves Libby from jumping and starts a conversation. Slowly, the ice between them thaws and Declan shows Libby one of his drawings. Libby takes the drawing home, pins it on her wall, and starts to feel inspiration to write a new play.
Libby introduces Declan to the world of art, taking him to the gallery and then to the theatre. They meet up at a coffee shop, and Libby starts to interview him. She gradually gathers more of his story for her play. Declan tells her about his abusive stepfather, his mother, and the ‘lil one’ at home that he tries to care for. Declan and Libby dance to some 90s music and it seems like ‘everything’s going to be alright’.
Then, the midpoint. Declan’s world is turned upside-down. He and Libby tread the perilous edge between friends and ‘work’ colleagues. What he says and what she writes might not be the same. Declan is in desperate need of someone to talk to, to support him, so does Libby steal his story? I won’t spoil the ending, but you’re in for quite a ride.
Mouthpiece is a hard-hitting, provoking play which handles challenging issues with a good amount of humour to balance the light and dark. Jayden and Christen are engaging and entertaining to watch, and evoke their characters authentically. The minimal set design and costuming allow for a deeper focus on the two-person cast. The play also becomes a mouthpiece for the issues it raises, asking the audience to respond.
After the show on Saturday, Queensland Theatre’s artistic director Lee Lewis walked on stage and thanked us for being their first live audience after COVID. She also invited us to check out their 2021 season, unveiled through an online launch on Sunday.
Mouthpiece is showing in the QPAC Playhouse from 31 Oct to 14 Nov 2020. Don’t miss seeing Queensland Theatre back on stage.
What: Mouthpiece by Queensland Theatre
When: 31 Oct – 14 Nov, 1pm/ 2pm/ 6:30pm/ 7:30pm (depending on date)
Where: Playhouse, QPAC
Tickets: Preview $55, Saturday Nights $75, Weeknights $73. Discounts available for seniors and concession. Book here.
Images: Stephen Henry