A gripping new play about an easy relationship between a middle-class writer and a working-class artist in Edinburgh is heading to New York after winning one of the Fringe’s most prestigious prizes.
Mouthpiece, which has been a sell-out smash at the Traverse this month, was honoured with the Carol Tambor Award at the Scotsman Fringe Awards ceremony at the Pleasance Courtyard.
Edinburgh-born writer Kieran Hurley’s play was originally staged at the Traverse in December.
One of the hottest tickets in the theatre’s line-up, Mouthpiece is billed as “a look at the different Edinburghs which often exist in ignorance of one another, and examines whether it’s possible to tell someone else’s story without exploiting them along the way”.
It will transfer to New York after winning the $25,000 prize, which was set up by American artist and theatre aficionado Tambor in 2004.
Hurley’s story unfolds after writer Libby, played by Shauna Macdonald, encounters teenager Declan, played by Angus Taylor, on Salisbury Crags as she contemplates taking her life.
Tambor said Mouthpiece explored whether anyone had the right to “steal another person’s story for their art”.
She said: “Mouthpiece challenges the audience with ambiguous moral issues.
“When Libby meets Declan they share neither social class nor experience.
“Declan’s troubled past inspires Libby’s appropriation of his life’s story – but is she doing it to give voice to the ‘unseen and unheard’ or for herself?”
Hurley said: “I am so grateful and so moved by this recognition for Mouthpiece, which has been a labour of love, which the Traverse never gave up on.
“Mouthpiece is a play about Edinburgh and of Edinburgh, so to have this acknowledgment at the Fringe is incredibly meaningful to me, a boy from Restalrig, who grew up thinking this bonkers thing is what happens in every city in summertime.”
Other winners announced at the awards ceremony included the Summerhall show Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats, which is heading to the Adelaide Fringe in Australia after winning the Holden Street Theatre Awards.
The show sees performers Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit recall what happened when they went to Malta to mark the countdown to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and ended up exploring the plight of refugees.
Another Summerhall show, All of Me, won the Mental Health Fringe Award in its third year.
Written and performed by Olivier Award-winner Caroline Horton, the play was described as “an uncompromising and unforgettable portrayal of living with depression”. Her show will be staged at the next Scottish Mental Health Festival in Glasgow in 2020.
There was further success for Summerhall when The Canary and the Crow was revealed as the Brighton Fringe Award winner.
Meanwhile, Tales from the Garden, Ameera Conrad’s one-woman show at the Assembly Rooms, won the Filipa Braganca Award for the best solo performance by an emerging female artist, which was instigated two years ago to honour the award-winning actress.