A young man waits impatiently for his little brother Matty to finish school. Alone on a football pitch amongst piles of dead leaves, he frets over his alcoholic mum, the state of their home and the letter from social services informing them that Matty will be taken away.
He considers his options in a rhythmic, musical poetry, with dreams and plans getting the better of him as he scours the lines of children for his brother. As his energy builds, Will Mytum’s unnamed character tensely springs and dodges around the pitch whilst steely blue eyes are ever watching for the next obstacle. His presence is captivating – alternating between anger and tenderness hints at the emotional turmoil within.
Niall Ransome’s monologue in the run-up to this family’s Christmas captures the desperation and helplessness caused by the lack of social mobility in deprived parts of the UK. This story is set in Hull, but it’s easy to imagine it anywhere – Cornwall, the Welsh Valleys, desolate coastal towns, or inner London estates. Though broader strokes form the story’s spine, there are moments of detail in the language and Mytum’s characterisation.
The story is fairly complete and dramaturgically sound, but its brevity and small scale undersells its importance. This is an approach to storytelling that feels like it’s still finding its feet in Edinburgh or at VAULT Festival rather than a show further on in its development. Reminiscent of Andrew Maddock’s verse plays featuring working class characters, it would compliment another short piece of similar themes, or served well by additional performers. Seeing Matty, mum and other characters he encounters in the flesh would make this a richer, more complex play.
Ransome shows an instinctual sense for his craft, and it would be great to see this sombre, provocative story grow.
FCUK’D runs through 30 December.
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