The local am-dram society is under pressure to comply with the equalities agenda. They come up with a cunning plan to create a gripping show starring ‘the disabled’. What could be better than the Oscar-winning ‘My Left Foot’? The only snag is they’re having real trouble finding any disabled actors – but that never stopped Daniel Day-Lewis!
Here’s a musical that rightly says we’ve still got work to do with disability representation, by doing every wrong? In a show that pokes fun through a serious message it mostly sets the right tone, although has glaring moments that beg to tread further over the line! There are points where they do this perfectly – the song Spasticity echoing Billy Elliot’s Electricity comes to mind – but there’s still the odd awkward reference that to me doesn’t land quite the right punch. If you’re going to make this point in this way then go all out and really make the audience howl.
When it comes to accessibility through practicality the show doesn’t miss a trick. Detailed instructions for access are available along with audio description and audio loop. Captioning and the sign language from Nat (Natalie MacDonald) are seamlessly integrated into the show, often feeding the punch lines, proving it is something that can be an integral part of the art, not simply an occasional add-on. It sets the standard for everyone else.
And the score’s great too. With music and lyrics from Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour, and additional songs from Richard Thomas (known for Jerry Springer: the Opera), the music is heartfelt with some truly delicate moments between the comical ones.
The entire cast work together to bring this important message to the fore through the musical, but two shine. Matthew Duckett gives an endearing quality to the role that is essential for this piece, perfectly articulating the reasons why the representation of those with disabilities cannot be something that’s brushed aside. Dawn Sievewright is ideal in her character – bold and charismatic with a powerful voice along with it.
It’s in no doubt that this show has the balls to do what other shows wouldn’t dare (along with all the things they should be doing). I can’t help feel this show needs another life, and to grow in length to reach its full potential, but it’s already gutsy, hilarious and from the heart.
Left Right Foot the Musical is at the Assembly Roxy as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. Tickets available online.
My Edinburgh trip was supported by the Network of Independent Critics! Find out more about their work here.
Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan