The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Review: Letters to Morrissey

A gripping and thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre, says Lily Brittain.


Gary McNair’s solo piece Letters to Morrissey is not exactly what one would presume from the title. Needless to say, The Smiths are a running theme throughout, with the iconic lyrics of the British indie rock band being spoken numerous times on stage. A powerful backdrop of striking luminous images of Morrissey with the steady murmur of his hit songs eases the audience in, adding to the feeling that you are truly immersed into a young boy’s life and the multitude of emotions contained within the letters to Morrissey.

However, this poignant piece of theatre is so much more than just a 15-year-old boy writing doting letters to an icon. McNair expresses the power of music through this theatre piece; presenting a lonely young man living in a ‘shite town’ and pondering many different things about his life and the somewhat dark and complex issues he is faced with.

In this sense, the audience is presented with a character that is almost instantly likeable, with his sharp wit and laughable teenage angst. Numerous characters all effortlessly presented by McNair flow perfectly with the captivating storyline. The audience learns as the characters do and each shocking turn or event is ever more powerful.

Twists and turns of the story make for a gripping piece of theatre, with some particularly whimsical moments coming from the office of Mr McKinnon and the looming sign, reading: ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’. This phrase becomes somewhat darkly ironic as the play unravels, particularly in relation to the unfortunate fate of young Tony.

The raw honesty delivered by the ‘boy with the thorn in his side’ reflects the brutal honesty of telling the story from a young boy’s perspective. The array of characters come to life beautifully on stage, it’s somewhat hard to believe that one actor is capable of such vast character changes so convincingly and effortlessly. The 65-minute run-through without an interval was the perfect way for this play to be performed. In the same sense that the lives being portrayed continued, the audience continued to be lulled into a sense of fascination alongside the events taking place.

This beautifully crafted piece of theatre highlights not only the intensity of experiences at young ages, but I also felt it reminded the audience of the power of music, reminding us all of how infatuating and powerful it can be. Not to mention how much we recall adoring an icon of ours, whether that be a 1980s musician or someone more close to home. As the play drew to a close, I began to understand just as the protagonist had, how much power the minute things in life seem to possess, and how this can shape one’s life for what seems like an eternity.

The success that Letters to Morrissey enjoyed at Edinburgh Fringe over the summer is sure to be continued after such a fantastic opening night. McNair and director Gareth Nicholls are certainly a pair to look out for. This was a thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre.

Letters to Morrissey is at Home until Sat 16th September. Tickets can be purchased here