‘Mumburger explores grief in a way that will shock, repulse and intrigue you...and make you laugh’
- Credit: Archant
Zoe Paskett speaks to actor Rosie Wyatt about starring in Mumburger at the Old Red Lion, a play about grief, family relationships and eating red meat.
With many manifestations and an experience unique to each person, grief is a difficult thing to portray. Recent years have seen playwrights, actors and comedians discussing the topic in various new ways on the stage.
Sarah Kosar’s play, Mumburger, explores bereavement and its effect on the relationship between family members. As the inaugural writer in residence at Haggerston’s Archivist’s Gallery, Kosar is making waves with her surreal writing.
Mumburger, which originally ran at the Archivist’s Gallery, has just opened at the Old Red Lion Theatre.
Tiffany’s mum was hit by a Birdseye truck on the M25. With funeral arrangements to be made and family members to alert, she finds herself taking care of everything – at the same time having to deal with her detached father and his disengagement with it all.
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“What’s interesting is that [grief] propels her into practical activity and she’s a hive of energy,” says Rosie Wyatt, who plays Tiffany. “She says twenty words where everyone else would use five. She’s blunt, straight talking and is incredibly frustrated at her distant father’s inertia.”
A brown paper bag arrives on the doorstep containing a dying wish instructing them how to deal with the contents – the question is, will it bring them closer or drive them further apart?
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“It explores grief in a way that will shock, repulse and intrigue you...and possibly make you laugh,” says Wyatt.
“I won’t give away the plot but I think what’s great about the absurdity of it is that it pushes the characters to the extremes of their relationships which I guess is what the sudden loss of a partner or a parent will do to a relationship as well.”
The play is directed by Tommo Fowler, who says: “As a theatrical experience, I’ve never come across anything like this play. There’s a lot I see and read that doesn’t feel like it has to be performed in a theatre, whereas there’s no other medium that can support something like Mumburger.”
“What attracts me to this play is how raw and visceral it feels to me,” says Wyatt.
“That’s quite a scary thing to explore as a performer and my fear of certain elements of the play is perversely what drew me to it.
“Sarah’s writing is really unlike any other and you can spot a Kosar play a mile away because it will have an element to it that will totally surprise you. Her voice and view point are totally original and it’s a privilege to work on a script like that.”
Wyatt appeared in One Man Two Guv’nors at the National Theatre and Spine at the Soho Theatre before starring in the first production of Mumburger. She says working in fringe theatre is “tough” but worth it.
“Everyone is stretched. Everyone is probably working multiple jobs. But everyone is giving 100 per cent. Everyone is truly invested in coming together to make something strange and remarkable happen in a tiny, unassuming room above a pub.”
The theatre’s artistic director Clive Judd previously told the Gazette that the theatre has become like his baby, needing his attention day and night. Fowler agrees that a fringe theatre such as the Old Red Lion has to work particularly hard on everything they produce:
“There’s a really big challenge to theatre at the moment, which is basically: ‘Why should I bother doing this when I could just watch Netflix in my pants?’ Sarah and I are trying to make something that demands to be experienced – something accessible and unique and, above all, entertaining.”
Wyatt adds: “I also think the Old Red Lion space offers the opportunity for audiences to experience something truly close up and intimate, an experience you can’t necessarily replicate on a West End stage.”
Mumburger runs until July 22.