Breakfast Plays: The Future is…
Traverse Theatre, v15
09:00 (13-25 August, various days)
🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars)
Definitely worth getting up for!
The Traverse breakfast plays entice you, with the offer of a breakfast roll and coffee, to sample a series of new plays – scripted readings rehearsed in a day. This year’s selection showcases the work of four emerging women writers, each mentored by an established playwright, who were invited to imagine what our future might look like.
Kit Kat, by Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir begins with two seven-year-old girls. Rosa and Anne, [played superbly by Ashleigh More and Titana Muthui] are in their tree house, worrying about the wounded animal they have managed to bring there. They ‘pinkie swear’ that they won’t tell anyone else – but are worried: we did this – are we bad people? They have accidentally broken the leg of a squirrel, which they name Kit Kat [it’s Rosa’s favourite food]. It hungrily eats nuts that Rosa manages to sneak from home, but they don’t know how to mend its leg – their suggestions illustrate their partial understanding of the world around them, reminding us that they are only seven. A casual conversation between Rosa and her mum leads the latter to investigate the tree house: she is horrified to see that the squirrel’s leg is now badly infected, and makes the difficult decision to end its life.
This is where the narrative began to take a very different turn. Rosa’s horrified reaction to the mercy-killing – “I hate you mum, you’re a murderer” – leads her first to refuse to eat meat once she realises that the things she loves to eat were once walking around on four legs, takes her via the school library into a realisation of the vast scale of plastic pollution and turns ultimately into a hunger strike as the two girls wake up to the climate emergency and the virtual impossibility of being listened to by anyone who has any power to change things.
Rosa’s mum is an ordinary, well-intentioned person who gradually changes her way of life as she adopts more and more of the measures her daughter keeps urging as she desperately searches for the thing that will stop her daughter starving herself to death. Anne’s mum [whom we never meet] sounds a lot more right on: it’s from her that her daughter gains knowledge and encouragement to take action to further her cause: Anne’s impassioned plea at her school bake sale ends with the unforgettable words “we’re all going to die anyway – enjoy your cake!”
The situation worsens until Rosa’s mum finally agrees to let her daughter make a media appearance if only she’s willing to let her mum call an ambulance. The play ends with Rosa’s impassioned plea to the media, in which she departs from the message she’d agreed with her mum and urges all the children watching to go on hunger strike, explaining her and Anne’s gradual understanding of the crisis facing
the world – now we know and we’re scared – and ending with the heart-rending words I’m in danger: save me!
It’s an excellent piece of writing, with a strong and highly relevant message for today [though much of it will already have been heard with the world-wide school climate strikes]. There is a lot of humour, and the acting, even with script in hand, is excellent.
The first of the Traverse breakfast plays did its job, as ever, of giving its audience something to think about during the rest of the day – the question is, how much of what they applauded so vociferously this morning will they remember later in the day, and will it prompt them to take any action??