Andrew Frame and Rosie Wyatt will be bringing alive Sarah Kosar’s play, Mumburger, at the Old Red Lion Theatre, exploring bereavement and familial disconnection through the relationship of a father and daughter following the death of the mother.
Mumburger, directed by Tommo Fowler, is a universal story with a surreal twist, inviting the audience to evaluate their individual positions on societal taboos and personal obligation. We chat to writer Sarah Kosar to find out more about the show.
Mumburger is at The Old Red Lion 27th June – 22nd July 2017
Your play Mumburger is coming to The Old Red Lion Theatre at the end of this month – what can you tell us about it?
There will be burgers. You may love them more, you may love them a bit less. You’ll have to see which side you fall on. No matter what, you’ll have an opinion about burgers after you leave the theatre. You’ll see them, you’ll smell them, you’ll hear them sizzle.
You won’t be bored. I’m really aware that a lot of people can see theatre as boring and not as exciting or entertaining as watching a Netflix Original. I can also be one of those people. My mission as a playwright is to make thoughtful entertainment – engaging and visceral but also thoughtful and intellectually stimulating.
We can’t wait to share it with you. I’ve written a surreal, bonkers play and our team has jumped into it with such braveness, honesty and passion. We’re all excited to give our audiences a guttural experience in seeing this play. A play is nothing without an audience to share it with. Isn’t a plate of chips always more fun to share?
What inspired you to write this play?
Alright, let me set the scene.
My husband and I are sitting by a canal in Paris. We’ve got a bottle of prosecco, a baguette, salami and cheese. We start talking about a climate change play commission I have and where the plot could potentially go. We discuss the global food crisis, animal agriculture, greenhouse gases and the future. The sun starts to set.
What could we do to stop climate change? Stop eating meat? Not have children? Stop using resources and die? What if we would eat each other after we died? Maybe we’d actually be able to be with each other that little bit longer too. Would we be able to do it if one of us wanted to? Eat each other?
Fine, it’s not the romantic conversation you might expect but it got me wrestling with ideas of love and obligation and identity. After that conversation, the potential of such a request from a loved one stayed with me and started to unravel itself into what has become Mumburger.
Also! I love food on stage…
What attracts you to surrealist writing in particular?
Surrealism can offer the element of surprise and unexpected juxtapositions that other styles can’t. I always start with an image in my head that I want to see on stage and it’s usually bizarre, illogical or strange (some past examples are: sexual tension while gutting a chicken, drowning in a bathtub of spaghetti, an old woman being walked by her daughter like a dog). I usually don’t know why it’s what I need to write when I first open my google doc but I go on a journey as a writer, almost like that of the audience, in discovering why that illogical image or unexpected juxtaposition is saying something that a tweet or an iPhone photo can’t. Surrealism can illicit an emotional truth about human behaviour that might not be straightforward but is honest.
You’ve got an experienced cast in Andrew Frame and Rosie Wyatt. What are you hoping for them to bring to Mumburger?
I am so thrilled to have Andrew and Rosie on board for Mumburger! We were lucky to have Rosie as part of the short run of Mumburger last year at The Archivist’s Gallery and she brought so much truth, humour and bravery to the role (she was nominated for an Offie Award for Best Female Performance). I’ve re-drafted the play since so it’s been great to do that with her in mind, really playing to her strengths. Andrew has such a playful kindness to him and since we first met to discuss the role, I’ve re-written it with him in mind. It’s so fantastic to have such intelligent, flexible actors that are able to take my surreal play and ground it in emotional truth. I know it’s going to be a stellar collaboration and I’m ready for the magic and possibilities that we’ll find together in the rehearsal room.
As an American playwright living in London, do you think about cultural differences when you’re writing?
Absolutely! I moved to London eight years ago to pursue playwriting and I’ve now learnt it’s not as simple as replacing “rubbish” for “trash”. I’m now equipped with a clear cultural understanding of both places and how those can be utilised and exploited in theatre. I wanted to make Mumburger hyper-local, so I have set it in East London where I’m based and also near to the Old Red Lion. Although it’s a surreal play, being set in a local area to the theatre makes it even more visceral to watch. There’s also a mix of cultural backgrounds in the characters with the mum being American, the dad being British and the daughter somewhere in the middle. I made that choice to further emphasise the themes of the play around disconnection and identity.
One thing that isn’t a cultural difference between Americans and Brits? We all love burgers.
Where’s your favourite place in London to grab a burger?
I do enjoy burgers with meat, but my all-time favourite at the moment is Byron’s veggie mushroom, goats cheese, spinach and red pepper burger.