Doreen and her two grown up daughters sit at the table squabbling over their lives and how to deal with her grand-daughter Megyn; the culprit of a social media crazed brainwash system that has got her so devastated about the climate crisis she has submerged herself into her room and hasn’t left for a month.
Michael Wynne’s Cuckoo is a living room drama examining a scouse mother-daughter-granddaughter-sister relationship and the generational impacts of their time. It is mixed with matters about the climate, technology, relationships and managing the struggles of daily life and what we each do to escape our sometimes-harsh realities.
Doreen, the matriarch of the family, is in her 70’s, obsessed with selling second hand goods online only to heal her broken 45-year-old marriage, and desperately ignoring the truth of Megyn’s dire mental health, just leaves food at her door, giving her all the space she would need to the point of neglect. Played engrossingly by Sue Jenkins with such character she is hard to take your eye off.
Sarah one of the daughters, played by Jodie McNee; a neurotic teacher and champagne socialist desperately trying to adhere to left wing politics but does fault to admit she likes her luxuries. She on the other hand is aware that Megyn’s situation is dire and something should be done. Carmel the other daughter and mother of Megyn played by Michelle Butterly is more concerned by her high street shop floor becoming zero hours contract and getting less money. She comes to the ultimate truth that perhaps she could have a part to blame in Megyn’s misfortune.
All beautifully bounce off each other and in synchronicity get distracted by their mobile phones; each using them for different and ridiculous reasons. Whenever a conversation gets too intense or too dull, a bleep of a notification excites them. Director Vicky Featherstone (artistic director of the Royal court) boldly highlights by a loud notification sound our never ending hilarious and doomed addiction to dopamine.
Designer Peter McKintoch’s brings us the classically styled living room drama with a simple set that nourishes our cozy feeling with fish and chips and tea and biscuits at regular intervals. It has the potential to feel flat and unchanging but writer Michael Wynne (The Knocky, The Priory) delights us in consistent wit and jives between light hearted banter to subsidies of relevant and important matters.
At Cuckoo’s core is something so much more relevant today. How we deal with mental health in this ever-changing way of smart phones and lack of human interaction. The effect it has on connection and love. The incessant negative information about the way the world exterior world is. We are all struggling but is the modern form of communication actually healthy for our fragile minds?
Cuckoo catches the zeitgeist of the moment in a classically theatrical living room drama style. It hits all the funny bones and is performed with true expertise.
Cuckoo is at The Royal Court until 19th August 2023.