Cosmic Scallies

Graeae Theatre Company champions the working-class misfits of Skelmersdale, Lancashire – or ‘Skem’ as Dent and Shaun call it – in their new show Cosmic Scallies. Dent (Rachel Denning) is suffering from chronic pain, and her mother has recently passed away. After employing ‘Shaun the Handyman’ to help her sift through her mother’s belongings, she sees her childhood best friend standing on her doorstep. Shaun (Reuben Johnson) and Dent’s friendship soured in their teenage years as Shaun was desperate to fit in at school, and Dent was too bookish and too short for the likes of the Skem in-crowd. She went off to university, and he is on the dole.

This show shows so much promise, and it’s message of friendship, compassion and solidarity despite the odds is heartwarming and empowering.

Writer Jackie Hagen’s witty text is projected onto an exciting set of chaotically positioned hard foam furniture, which is fortunate as Shaun speaks with such enthusiasm and speed it requires reading at at times. We follow them on their journey through the streets of Skem, and we cannot help but be charmed by both characters and their kooky town. Though the performances from both actors are fantastic with their obvious chemistry and delivery, I couldn’t help but feel the play was deliberately trying to encompass current social and political issues under the one story. It was like the audience were actively watching the writer tick boxes, and it’s wonderful to see a play being so inclusive, but it did feel a little forced.

Within the actual story, not much happens around the race to the chemist before closing, but we do get to see two friends whose powerful yet turbulent relationship that was once dormant restored. This show shows so much promise, and it’s message of friendship, compassion and solidarity despite the odds is heartwarming and empowering. Graeae Theatre Company’s Cosmic Scallies delights audiences with it’s sharpness, insight and eccentricity, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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Performances

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The Blurb

A witty and touching new play about class, friendship and absence, set in the forgotten town of Skelmersdale by award-winning writer and comedian Jackie Hagan. Shaun and Dent grew up best friends on the same council estate in Skem. Dent left, full of ambition, but 10 years later she’s back. Can Shaun convince her Skem is an inheritance better than any house? Directed by Amit Sharma of Solid Life of Sugar Water: ‘Startlingly good’ **** (Times). All performances include creative captioning and audio description.

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