Zoo Playground 3 – August 11-26
Reviewed by Emma Sibbald
Cerebral, witty, thrumming with energy – ‘If Mouth Could Speak’ is a play ostensibly about one man’s quest for death, but performs as a powerful celebration of life in the big city, in all its suffering glory.
A young immigrant, Danny, is lost and suicidal in the strange tides of London. There is no set, no props, yet we sense the ranging energy of a conflicted individual. One moment he sits by the Southbank, the next by London Bridge, then Peckham and beyond. Exquisitely written and performed by Timotei Cobeanu, the imagery is that of isolation, yet it brims with humanity.
The music, written by director Michael Crean, was a particular highlight, able to follow the changing energy of Danny’s deteriorating state. There is not a static moment, the poetry and music is relentless, a rhythmic reflection of a moving city. At points, Cobeanu slips into a grime rap-like flow, accompanied by Crean’s shifting beats, at others sirens, voices and doctors accompany his words, plaintive and scattered.
London herself makes an appearance; twisted, ancient, toothless, lustful. The personification of ‘London’ as a wild woman made sense to me, she is a city without boundaries, after all, and her sudden appearances animated the performance with a crooning vivacity. One quibble – ‘London’ is given a breathy, high-pitched voice that didn’t quite match the comparison of “Amy Winehouse” as offered by the script. Something more authentically seductive might have worked better, rather than a humorous mimicry of charged femininity.
Overall it is a moving hour, an intense journey into one man’s anguish, adorations and eventual destruction in the most populated of cities. I’d highly recommend.