Sharp dialogue, simple but effective sets and passionate character portrayals, Lantern Liverpool continues to build its reputation for pure contemporary theatre with its latest offering from Kraken Theatre.
My Christian Name is written by David Mumeni, directed by Zoe Lafferty and Teatime, by Martina Horrigan, directed by David Milner. Both writers have made the bold decision to act in their own plays and it is never at any point self indulgent.
With a Muslim Christian name, Jewish surname, Iranian mother and English father; Mo (David Mumeni) feels conflicted about where and if he belongs in My Christian Name. Who would have thought striking up a conversation with local ‘laddy’ mechanic Andy, could lead to him unlocking the answers to his questions.
How do you resolve the conflict of seeing yourself as one thing, while being perceived so differently by others?
From the onset of the play, four tyres and a car bumper are suspended from the ceiling to depict a vehicle, with various mechanical props scattered around the stage space, the audience are immediately drawn into the garage setting.
Tense, troubled student Mo, effectively portrayed with compassion by David Mumeni, off loads his troubles on mechanic Andy, Paul Joseph, a practical everyman figure who talks of a “Slightly conked out Britain.” His rants touch on the current obsession with fame to University courses as absurd as David Beckham studies and his dislike of football and love of classical music.
Both characters touch on the sensitivity of the human soul and the universality that we all share. ‘My Christian Name’ is a witty and tender piece that questions issues of identity, race, grief and what it means to be modern day Londoner. The plays realistic dialogue is contemporary, succinct and witty, singular lines, like “I am not a Buddhist, I do xmas”, stay in the mind after the stage lights go up.
This play was first written as a short, developed as part of the ‘Write to Shine’ programme with the National Youth Theatre and Shine Television.
Teatime was written for a Radio project Air Time Unlimited (Drama Centre London) it has been developed over the last twelve months into a stage play making its debut at The Platform Theatre, Kings Cross London.
It explores the lives of three generations of a close-knit family, sharing the same house and how they lose the capacity to communicate, until one Teatime. Stuck in a humdrum town where everything seems grey Jackie is fast approaching her Fortieth birthday and she is trapped at home with her Father, Daughter and Daughter’s boyfriend.
The play illustrates the impact the onset of Alzheimer’s has on a normal family, and how they try to cope with it. The play was written about writer Martina Horrigan’s own Grandfather and is an honest humane portrayal of this illness. It never edges away, from the tragic yet comic humour that can be brought out in times of crises. One of the most amusing lines is the Granddad (Steven Ley) complaining about his old friend, “Mr Arthur Righteous”. The drama asks the question, how does a parent deal with being a parent?
The play takes place with four claustrophobic defined spaces, tired wallpaper and a small box and duvet highlight the grandfather’s room a simple chair and table, the living area, two pieces of cheap carpet on a slightly raised minute platform, the bathroom, and a few bread baskets to portray the garden outside. The sparse set and rapid movement of the actors consistently throughout the piece keep the pace of the play and helps to highlight the complexity of living on top of one another.
The Lantern has recently extended its bar area, resembling an Edward Hopper painting and adds an additional flair to this spit and sawdust fringe venue. The Lantern continues to fly the flag for fringe theatre and indeed illuminates a creative glow on the horizon of Liverpool culture.
The Lantern Theatre/
18, 20 October
57 Blundell Street