IT’S an observable fact that when children are young, their bodies don’t bother them, except when they’re hurt or ill; they think, play, and live intense inner lives that may be disturbed by external events, but not by messages from their own bodies.
Adolescence, though, is when all that changes, as physical signals from the body begin to affect and trouble the mind, and young people have to learn to live with a new relationship between the two. That moment of change has rarely been better captured –in all its exhilaration and danger – than in John Levert’s novel The Flight of the Cassowary, first published in America in 1988, and beautifully adapted for the stage by Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell, in his 2006 play Mancub.
Now, Cumbernauld Theatre director Ed Robson has revived Mancub in an austere but vivid and profoundly sympathetic production that features an outstanding performance from Andy Peppiette as the central character Paul, with a superb Christina Gordon as his mum, his girlfriend and a friendly dog, and David James Kirkwood as his dad, his best friend and his football coach.
The story of Mancub is of a boy whose response to the shock of adolescence is to feel that he is becoming an animal, or a whole range of animals; sometimes voluntarily, sometimes unable to help himself. And although his experience is extreme, and finally dangerous, it is so profoundly rooted in universal teenage experience that it touches the hearts and minds of young people and adults alike; in a show about the experience of growing up – and particularly of growing up male - that should be more widely seen.
Gergely Madaras made his BBC SSO debut with a Hungarian and Russian programme