Scrappers is a debut play from a graduate of the Playhouse’s young writers programme, but with an impressive set design to almost rival any production in the main theatre auditorium, from first glance it’d be hard to guess.
Based in a Fleetwood scrapyard on its last legs and at war against encroaching property developers, Mari Lotherington’s extensive set is like nothing ever quite seen in the Playhouse’s Studio space before. Huge swathes of corrugated iron, barbed wire and a rickety hut swamp the space to almost make the audience feel as if we’re confined in it as well.
Ged McKenna is patriarchal figure Ken, raging against the dying of the light; he is backed up by some very likeable performances by David Judge and John McGrellis as his employees. Gentle Ryan is shy, naive and good-hearted, while Morse is pompous, self-assured and prone to writing poetry about his days at work.
A whirlwind comes into the scrapyard in the shape of Jodie, a mysterious girl on the run whose past draws her back to the place. A sparkling performance from Molly Taylor breathes life into all around, and brings hope that there is future for an industry, and town, in decline.
Daniel Matthew’s script is tugged in many directions as it attempts to fully flesh out each character as well as make several wider points about recession, Northern identity, and new ways versus old. This, along with some exuberant attempts to intellectualise proceedings, overcomplicated the story on occasion (a moment where Molly dismisses the rhyme schemes of Morse’s poetry is a case in point). It’s a lot to fit in and when it works well it is a highly entertaining and thought-provoking play, particularly in the first act. Written with a good ear for dialogue, it is realistic and warm, lovingly performed by a solid cast, and has you rooting for our underdogs.
Scrappers is on at the Playhouse Studio until November 16.
Picture by Christian Smith