REVIEW: MULE (Omnibus) ★★★★


Mule, produced by Omnibus and written by award winning Omnibus associate writer Kat Woods received rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and now comes to the Omnibus in Clapham for ten days in November.

The play is inspired by real life events in 2013 as Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum hit the headlines when they were arrested in Lima with large amounts of drugs in their luggage. The story was widely reported and the women were vilified in the press as differing versions of events and details of their past were presented. Wood imagines the story of two young women whose summer adventure in the party capital of the world turns sour when they get involved in something far more serious than they imagine and end up locked in a South American prison; far from their families and unaware of the tales being told about them by the press at home.

Aoife Lennon and Edith Poor play the two young women pushed together by their involvement in the murky world of drug smuggling and dealing. They also play an array of 28 incidental characters between them. Lennon as Orlaith has by far the most developed character, Poor shows her versatility in taking on a wide range of roles.

The set is simple with just two boxes on the stage and a screen behind. We first see projected text messages between Orlaith and her sister as she sets off on her adventure to Ibiza. As we approach the start of the play, the messages have become one-sided and her family in Ireland are concerned for her welfare. As the play begins we realise why Orlaith has stopped contacting her family and the screen is used to show comments on social media and tabloid press reports about the girls as news of their arrest becomes known.

Mule is well written, the story develops through short scenes and snatches of conversation as the audience begins to put together what has led these young women to a prison cell. Our sympathies shift through the fifty minutes as we see and hear of manipulation and betrayal. Were they set up to be caught so others could succeed? Were they naïve or is it all an act for the police and the lawyers to save them from a longer sentence? How much does media reporting influence our views? This is a thought provoking and engaging short play with a lot to say.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans

MULE plays at Omnibus in Clapham until 19 November 2016