Sunday, 18 November 2018

REVIEW: Cuckoo at the Soho Upstairs, Soho Theatre


A new play by Lisa Carroll, Cuckoo is set in modern day Ireland and follows two unlikely friends- Iona and Pingu- over a several days as they decide to leave the bullying and difficulties in Dublin behind to move to London. This sparks the interest from a pair of popular lads who strike up a sudden interest in Iona. An unconventional teen story, Cuckoo tackles sensitive issues in growing up with a realistic portrayal. The key theme is the importance of reputation and how it affects every moment of young lives. 

Debbie Hannan’s direction is to be congratulated, she has used the black box space effectively to create a fast-paced show, with a good use of the three entrances/exits. Cuckoo is easy to follow and expertly combines moments of humour with equally emotional scenes.

The cast of Cuckoo brought the show to life impeccably. Leading lady Iona, played by Caitriona Ennis, was a compelling storyteller and had exceptional comedic timing, cracking the audience up throughout. Ennis showed all sides to this complex character with a natural performance alongside her best friend, Pingu (Elise Heaven). Heaven, although mute for the entirety of the show, made no less of an impact through facial expression alone. No words were necessary to understand every hilarious and heartbroken interaction. Pingu’s choice to stop speaking from a young age highlighted the issues of acceptance of non-binary people in our community. Although a key-theme in the show, it was integrated into the storyline as opposed to being the forefront of the play. This gave me hope for the future of diverse characters in theatre and how we approach these relevant social issues.

Cool kids Trix (Peter Newington) and Pockets (Colin Campbell) were a dynamic duo who depicted their childishness behaviour alongside the darker sides to their personality excellently. Newington made a great impact to the show with his wind-up acts, bringing back dark flashbacks of Black Mirror episodes as he filmed everything unfold on his iPhone. Campbell was a little reserved at times but played a menacing character well, I was eager to find out more of his character background.

Sade Malone’s Toller showed a nasty, but complicated, teen who added depth to the script with her honesty and surprising acceptance of Pingu. A talented actor with a big future ahead. 

Ultimately, the show was fantastic and incredibly gripping. The over reliance of swear words in the darker scenes occasionally could have been replaced with better emotional vocabulary, however, it was an eccentric and fascinating show overall. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £16
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