Mouthpiece (4 stars)

This article is from 2017


credit: Brooke Wedlock

A journey to the limits of language

Written and performed by Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken, Mouthpiece explores the inner dialogue of a woman over the course of a day as she prepares for her mother's funeral. The play opens with the two actors wearing white swimming costumes sat in a bath. The woman's stream of consciousness is cleverly depicted by them speaking the same lines in unison, and speaking solo as she argues back and forth with herself.

As she processes the news of her mother's death, she is attempting to construct a eulogy to give at the funeral. As she tries to capture her in words, she explores the limits of language in distilling a human being. She describes her as the perfect wife and mother, a doormat, a salad and spritzer woman and a direct contrast to the independent whisky drinker she is. While one seems to conform to the expectations of a woman, the other rejects it, but both are acting in response to this idea of what it is to be a woman.

Lists are used to great effect to demonstrate the role of popular culture in shaping gender expectations: the list of romcoms about weddings is staggering and it's coupled with snippets of songs, adverts and women's magazines. It's an incredibly polished piece, with choreographed movement, singing, brilliant comic moments in the form of answer machine messages and a wide scope of vocal noises from humming to chanting and screeching.

The piece even addresses what could be challenged as its flaw – privilege – emphasising that we, the audience, have heard this woman – she has space to speak but there are places where a woman speaking her mind would be met with violence. A searing piece of feminist theatre, exceptional in its creative delivery of so many ideas.

Summerhall, until 28 Aug, times vary, £10 (£8).


  • 4 stars

Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice.