The Old Red Lion Theatre has established itself as one of the best fringe venues in London. They aim to nurture and present the very best new and emerging theatrical talent and this small but ambitious theatre has reputation for giving new writers a chance to showcase their skills.
Mumburger by Sarah Kosar works well in this venue. A subtle, intimate play about grief and disconnection, the audience is almost eavesdropping on Tiffany (Rosie Wyatt) and her Dad (Andrew Frame) as they try to navigate their way through to a satisfactory resolution.
The sudden death of her mum has left Tiffany reeling and her father in depressed denial. Rosie Wyatt is compelling as the furious, confused Tiffany trying to make sense of her loss, her father and herself. We sense her frustration and helplessness, and can’t help rooting for her, even when she’s at her most selfish or strange. Andrew Frame’s ‘Dad’ is touchingly out of his depth confronted by the loss of his wife and the emotional demands of his daughter. The play is at its best when we see how the two of them try to connect, but struggle to understand each other.
Director Tommo Fowler does a good job of keeping up the pace and not letting the play descend into farce. It would be easy to play the surreal ‘Mumburger’ set up as a joke, but this production doesn’t do that. It leaves us to decide the reality. It could be argued that there are too many questions left unanswered. From Tiffany’s sadistic leanings to her ability to feel emotions, to whether it really is Mum in the brown paper bag. Kosar doesn’t give us answers, but maybe that’s her point.
There’s lots to enjoy in the play, not least the sparky writing, the jokes about Vegan cheating and the inventive use of multimedia. And that’s without the live cooking of burgers-by-blow-torch on stage. Kosar has a good eye for the surreal and theatrical and she’s careful not to wrap things up too neatly. I wasn’t so convinced by the split scenes and changes in tone, and at times the play does feel like a ten-minute idea stretched out to an hour, but overall this was a quirky, entertaining play full of ideas, reaching to say something fresh about grief and intimacy.
Review by Roz Wyllie
“Hail Mum, full of life.
We are with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy body.”
Tiffany’s mum got hit by a Birdseye truck on the M25. There’s family to call and a coffin to order, but first she has to talk to her dad – and for some reason that’s the toughest thing on her to-do list. Meanwhile, an oozing paper bag on the doorstep holds a dying wish that will either bring father and daughter together, or drive them further apart.
In her surreal new play about grief, parenting and alternative meat, Sarah Kosar (Spaghetti Ocean, Royal Court Live Lunch) asks how far we can be pushed by love and obligation.
Running time 70 minutes
Start Time 7.30pm Tues-Saturday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm
Writer Sarah Kosar
Director Tommo Fowler
Producer Hannah Tookey
Designer Charlotte Henery
Twitter @SarahKosar, @ORLTheatre, #Mumburger
Booking to 22nd July 2017