Drug smuggling, media vilification, and surviving a notoriously hard-core South American prison are the focus of a new play at multi-arts venue Omnibus in Clapham.
Mule presents the very human drama behind the sensational news headlines and social media outrage surrounding two young women caught smuggling drugs in South America.
It is inspired by the real case of the ‘Peru Two’ – two 20-year-old women arrested at the airport for smuggling 11kg of cocaine.
The play is not strictly biographical but rather uses this situation to explore the fallout from two young lives spiralling fantastically out of control.
Are the girls innocents abroad, caught up by the dark side of Ibiza’s party lifestyle and manipulated, exploited and betrayed by men?
Or are they willing mules, drug-smuggling for financial gain, undeserving of pity for the degradation and abuse they endure in a filthy, overcrowded foreign prison?
Mule, like the events that inspired it, is more complex than either viewpoint and we witness the girls’ struggle to keep their stories straight.
Two actors, Aoife Lennon and Edith Poor, convincingly portray 28 different characters between them – the incarcerated girls, journalists, family members, clubbers, fellow prisoners and guards.
They switch effortlessly and convincingly from character to character, often within the same scene.
Their performances are faultless and often moving – pain, grief, terror and frustration variously etched on their faces, tears rolling down their cheeks.
The drama is presented in an intense, fast-paced, single act lasting just under an hour.
The staging is simple: two wooden blocks and a tatty, ‘prison-issue’ projector screen and yet the worlds the actors create and inhabit feel uncomfortably real.
The use of multi-media is effective without ever feeling gimmicky, contrasting the piteous human drama with damning media headlines and online abuse.
To the writer’s credit, Mule raises many questions about truth, innocence, and trial by social media without judgement or rushing to provide all the answers.
It comes to London following success at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year and plays a limited 10-day run at the play’s producing home.
Mule is written and directed by the multi-award winning Kat Woods whose previous works include Belfast Boy and Wasted and have been performed in Finland and New York.
She is an associate writer for Omnibus, an exciting multi-arts centre housed in a converted Victorian library in Clapham.
Mule was their first production at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Click here to hear award-winning writer-director Kat Woods talk about how she created the play.
Mule plays Omnibus, 1 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 0QW until Saturday 19 November, 7.30pm (excl. Sunday 13 and Monday 14). Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions) available online: www.omnibus-clapham.org or by calling 020 7498 4699. For ages 14+.