Sam Potter's debut play in the confines of Theatre503 rattles. It rattles through snappy opening vignettes. It rattles off dialogue. It rattles you.
Ostensibly a work of fiction, but with an element of real-life events, Mucky Kid follows 36 hours in the life of Maggie ‘Mae' Radcliffe. Who, we learn, has briefly absconded from prison - an institution in which she's spent over half of her life. Escaping with fellow inmate Naomi, they meet two Norfolk lads willing to show them a good time. At least, until they find out who she really is.
Who is that exactly? You'll see, as layer after layer of truth and lies and wish fulfillment are scrubbed away. Mucky Kid starts apace accompanied by an energetic soundtrack, but as we jump back and forth in time, the action – the truth – becomes heavier and nothing remains clear-cut.
Inhabiting the stark, polythene-covered space is the small but perfectly formed cast. As a whole they are an excellent unit, flitting in and out of roles as required; needing little more than a few props and an orange chair to tell their story. Rob Whitcomb as the bumpkin-ish Derek is a worthy comedic foil. Adam Loxley, Serena Manteghi and Pamela Dwyer orbit around Mae, each adeptly revealing darker elements of the plot in their turn. But it's Sonya Cassidy, twitchy and taut, who keeps the electric undercurrent of the show pulsing. Her performance as Mae is by turns sympathetic and hideous. She embodies the contradictory character entirely: now childish, now weary, now skittish and dangerous.
What did she do? And whatever it was, doesn't she deserve a second chance? Does she really harbor an evil she'll never escape from – try as she might? Potter, like her psychologist character, offers no judgement in her excellent play, only throwing out questions and the sad facts of Mae's distorted life into the space like so many feathers. Or perhaps, given the subject matter, like darts would be more accurate.