A new world was created in Stage@Leeds late last month as Big Egg Theatre presented their latest production, The Mayor of Everywhere. This young cast’s witty, classic and genuinely surprising piece is a delight to watch. Set in a Jacobean future, it comes to life and draws its audience in with memorable performances and very few issues. Watching and experiencing the play was an unexpected pleasure.
As the most ambitious production by Big Egg Theatre to date, The Mayor of Everywhere’s production story is a marvel in itself. Only three weeks passed between the final script dispersal and the dress rehearsal, all this amidst exam season no less. Harrison, Reeson and Blake have worked wonders with bringing this new play to life and its cast together. The cast were able to anticipate each other’s movements and spur on the performance which created a spellbinding on-stage chemistry. Watching Harry Duff Walker and Jodie Chun interact was a joy, and the very fluid scene changes credited everyone further. In a post-something-disaster world (the idea of post-apocalyptic is actively discouraged) we come across two new kingdoms which face the problems of civil organisation. Balancing loyalty, love, betrayal, social aspiration, and desperation along with a host of other themes, Harrison and Reeson’s original writing is a whirlwind that keeps the audience hooked, and the time flying. Broken down into five acts, the lives of the two courts and many social classes unfold before the audience, and the intertwining layers of the plot and subplot provide intrigue and comedy in almost equal measure.
The Queen (played by the entrancing Beth Mulrenan) and her King imbue the play with a sense of realism and darkness through their strong core performances, while some of the lower members of society add charm and whim. Unfortunately, there is some incongruity between the performances in the first three acts which unsettles the delivery, but this reconciles itself eventually. The actors’ styles are sometimes a bit too different from one another. The realist and the farcical clash — but this doesn’t impede the audience experience for long. If anything, it provides a break from the intense central storyline: a mad monarch or leader soliloquy never goes amiss in a tragedy. Ley and Ashton Gould do theirs brilliantly, and the level of development put into the characters’ histories becomes evident.
Whether you’ve watched with or without an understanding of the effort and passion that has been invested in this work, the final performances will be a joy. As with any play the ending is liable to divide opinion —the realist and often sarcastic tone of the play will satisfy the cynical, but for some it may be a touch anticlimactic. Though all in all, a smile will linger on most viewers’ faces. One to watch for now, a company and cast to remember for later.
Image courtesy of Rory Turnbull