"My mum's embarrassment threshold is high," explains Darren Pritchard. "What we tell you here, she'd tell you at the bus stop." Susan is Darren's mum; this show is about their life together, past and present. They reminisce, fondly or with arguments, dance and finally invite the audience to stay for a party and a buffet. The show has the jolt of real people's lives, going on around you, then welcoming you in.
Presented by theatre company Quarantine and Company Fierce, Susan & Darren was created in Manchester in 2006. For this tour, which includes the London premiere, the show has been updated to acknowledge changes in the cast's lives.
The pair describe their sitting room, Darren pacing the dance floor to show where the furniture would be. Each description prompts stories, corrections, explanations. "She'll do that, keep interrupting me," Darren reassures a member of the audience. "It's not real, it's just for conflict." Written by Sonia Hughes, directed by Richard Gregory and Renny O'Shea, Susan & Darren feels wonderfully fresh and unscripted: they just talk to us, even when they're acknowledging how theatrical this is.
Susan is small and plump; Darren, a trained dancer, is tall and willowy. He performs several solos in the course of the show, including a dreamily introspective pole dance. Susan loves dancing, putting on reggae or Motown, hips swinging. Their friends and relatives pop up on video screens, adding their own stories.
"What will you miss about me when I'm gone?" Susan asks. The first time, Darren ducks the question. The second time, he starts asking about funeral arrangements – and she's the one who backs off, turning the music up loud, ignoring him until he shouts at her.
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