SparkPlug follows the story of white Mancunian Dave who becomes the adoptive father and best friend of mixed-race child David. Inspired by his own father’s life, this new play by David Judge is a bitter-sweet portrayal of societal, familial and individual conflict and love.
With just one set, one character and one act, this dynamic and poetic monologue evokes Manchester’s Wythenshawe and Moss Side in the 80s and 90s with grit, humour and affection. It is a battle of optimism vs realism, racism and homophobia vs transcendent love.
Key themes of parenthood, ethnicity and identity politics are explored frankly and unashamedly, without ceremony. As Dave navigates his love for Joanne and David, all his hope, fears and insecurities are exposed in and around the bare framework of a car.
From a Ford Capri to a Fiat 126, the car is the one haven throughout the turbulence, upheaval and eventual chaos of Dave’s life. An ingenious prop, the car’s permanent presence on stage acts as a visible metaphor for safety, ownership and utility throughout the play.
SparkPlug is a rare example of concept, purpose and performance fusing successfully into one immersive production. Under Hannah Tyrell-Pinder’s direction, SparkPlug maintains pace and variety, forging Dave as a truly complex and sincere character. Judge’s performance is suitably complex and sincere; the monologue plays out like a visual-audio diary, rippling with authentic emotion.
Cleverly structured, with well-designed set, sound and lighting, SparkPlug is a well-written, well-conceived and impressively executed new play that is now embarking on a national tour – don’t miss it.
Reviewer: Eve Ryan
Reviewed: 14th February 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★★