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Cuckoo Artwork

all about theatre 3 star review

Cuckoo is a dark comedy by BAFTA & Olivier Award winning playwright Michael Wynne, the play has been created in partnership with the Royal Court Theatre, London and is directed by Vicky Featherstone.

The play features an all Scouse cast and tells the story of a multigenerational family from Birkenhead in Merseyside. There's Grandmother Doreen (Sue Jenkins), who is obsessed with selling stuff on ecommerce sites, her daughters Carmel (Michelle Butterly) who works at Boots and Sarah (Jodie NcNee) a primary school teacher, then there's Carmel's 17 year old daughter Megan (Emma Harrison) who failed her exams and is currently doing nothing with her life. There are no men in the picture as Doreen's husband has passed and Megan's Dad walked out on her and Carmel a few years earlier.

cuckoo production photo featuring Doreen (Sue Jenkins), Carmel (Michelle Butterly) & Megan (Emma Harrison)

The play begins with Doreen, Carmel and Megan sat around the dinning table at Doreen's house all glued to their smart phones, they are sat in silence as they scroll through social media sites and send text, we only know what they are doing by the pings and beeps of their phones, the women only breaking their silence to discuss what they have seen on their phones. A few minutes later Sarah arrives with a chippy tea for them all and requests that they put there phones away whilst they eat. They start up a conversation which is soon interrupted when Doreen receives a news flash alert informing them of a terrorist attack in Germany, they latter get into a conversation about climate change after Sarah talks about the school she works at wants to become an official green school. This conversation leads to arguments which results in Megan become more and more anxious and she eventually breaks down in tears running up to her grandmothers bedroom and locking herself inside.

cuckoo production photo featuring Sarah (Jodie McNee), Doreen (Sue Jenkins), Carmel (Michelle Butterly) & Megan (Emma Harrison)

Megan remain locked away in her grandmothers bedroom for almost the entirety of the play, only communicating with her grandmother via text whenever she required food and drink, her grandmother leaves the food and beverages outside the door as Megan does not let her inside the room. Whilst hiding away in her grandmothers room Megan posts passive aggressive social media posts about her mother and her Father. The other women speculate as to the reason why Megan could be behaving this way, is she just a moody teenager, has something happened to her, is she being bullied online, could she be on the autistic spectrum (as she is a fussy eater, hardly speaks and isn't very social). The play even hints at a possible supernatural reason for her behaviour but nothing really becomes of this.

cuckoo production photo featuring Sarah (Jodie McNee) and Doreen (Sue Jenkins)

Eventually after a few weeks of hiding out in her grandmothers room Megan emerges, she looks pale and week and doesn't speak. Megan is eventually convinced to return home with her mother and we never get to discover the reason for Megan's behaviour which I found a bit disappointing and anticlimactic.

cuckoo production photo showing the set

I thought the set designed by Peter McIntosh was nice and realistically depicted Doreen's home. The focus was on the dining room but we got glimpses of the kitchen and garden and there was a staircase leading up to Doreen's bedroom. The bedroom itself remains hidden until the end scene when a curtain is drawn back to reveal the room. The lighting design by Jai Morjaria and the sound design by Nick Powell worked well alongside the simple set.

cuckoo production photo featuring Megan (Emma Harrison)

The best thing about Cuckoo was the cast who were just fantastic, the four women were completely convincing as a family unit and all delivered outstanding performances. The four women were able to get the audience to warm to there characters and connect with them, they also had excellent comic timing. Emma Harrison makes her professional debut as Megan and I think she did an outstanding job, in a role Megan was feeling.

cuckoo production photo featuring Sarah (Jodie McNee)

The play ultimately looks at how different generations discuss the issues that face us in these uncertain times. It also looks at how technology and social media is taking over our lives and the affects this can have on our mental health.

I found the play humorous but not laugh out loud funny however a lot of people in the audience did, I enjoyed the play but I did find it a bit anticlimactic and was a bit disappointed with the ending as I was left wanting answers.

Cuckoo is running at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre until Saturday 23rd September 2023

you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the show you can find it by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Manuel Harlan

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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