IDENTITY POLITICS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: CUCKOO AT SOHO THEATRE
Cuckoo examines what happens when the non-binary gender identity of Pingu, played by Elise Heaven who also identifies as non-binary, rubs up against the gender expectations of those around them
This November, Catriona Ennis (Dublin by Lamplight, Corn Exchange; Test Dummy, Theatre Upstairs, Dublin; Wild Sky, Irish Arts Centre New York and Irish tour) will star as loud-mouthed Iona in the exciting world premiere of Cuckoo and joining her as Pingu, Iona’s silent tuxedowearing, non-binary best friend, will be Elise Heaven (The Little Bookshop, UK tour; PASSPAWT, Brighton Fringe; She’s a Good Boy, Camden Fringe Festival) who also identifies as non-binary.
Also joining the company are Colin Campbell (Disco Pigs, Trafalgar Studios and Irish Repertory Theatre, New York; Scotties, Scottish tour; Dublin by Lamplight, Abbey Theatre) as Pockets, Sade Malone (4 O’Clock Club, CBBC; The Queen and I, Sky; Seasons in the Sun, East Riding Theatre) as Toller and in his professional stage debut Peter Newington will star as Trix. Directed by Debbie Hannan (Things of Dry Hours, Young Vic; The Session, Soho Theatre; Who Cares, Royal Court), Cuckoo is from the distinctive new comic voice of debut playwright Lisa Carroll. Exploring gender identity, Carroll also dissects the true cost of belonging and reflects on how hard it is to break away from the place you grew up.
Everyone hates Iona. Everyone except Pingu. Sick of ceaseless bullying and despair, Iona and Pingu decide to get the fuck out of claustrophobic Crumlin, a small Dublin suburb. Who would have thought emigrating was such a great way to get noticed by the cool kids? Loving the attention, Iona is drunk on her new-found popularity until she discovers she’s messed with the wrong crowd. When reputation must be defended tooth and nail, this can only end in disaster.
Carroll’s teenagers are wild, funny, awful, and utterly human as they fight for more than the life that’s been handed to them. This is a fresh, modern look at what it means to be young in Ireland today as the production considers the bond of friendship through the shifting turbulence of adolescence. Cuckoo examines what happens when Pingu’s non-binary identity rubs up against the gender expectations of those around them.
Director Debbie Hannan comments, Cuckoo is an exciting new play with a unique voice about that febrile, explosive moment of adolescence when you’re striking out in attempt after attempt to be some kind of “SELF”. It’s about Iona, one scrubby weirdo that no-one likes, and Pingu, her silent best mate trying to scrape a bit of cultural capital before they leave forever – it’s about being uncool. It’s about teenage cruelty and friendships, and where those two things cross over. These brash and bright characters riotously, hilariously and often violently lash out to make their mark – on Crumlin, the world, and each other. I’m thrilled to be directing this quick-witted, feisty production, which lands us in their thumping, vivid world, whether we like it or not.