Ten years ago, Dent (Rachel Denning), left her small town in Lancashire for the bright lights of University, but life has brought her back. Her mother has passed away, she is struggling both mentally and physically and she has to get the pharmacy by 5pm to collect her prescription.
Her friend, Shaun (Reuben Johnson), has never left Skelmersdale (Skem) and does odd jobs to make ends meet. The two meet once more as the play begins and so unravels a tale of ambition (or lack thereof), poverty, prejudice and finding yourself. It initially appears as if the story will be bleak, with Dent in pain and Shaun’s only way of helping being to reel off a list of the dodgy characters he buys drugs from. By the end of the piece the audience are left feeling like both characters will be able to move forward (even if it is in Skem).
Skem seems to be one of those places considered a carbuncle on society where hopes and dreams are sucked out of its residents before they are spat back out to live in an ever more depressing cycle of unemployment and despair. The Guardian once described Skem as “a waking nightmare” but in this downtrodden town lies a lot of humour. Johnson is adept at serving up lines which sum up class difference, like noting that people outside of Skem eat chips from blocks of wood and drink in pubs such as The Fig and The Hat.
Cosmic Scallies makes important political commentary on the gap that is so often created early on in life, purely based on where you grow up. Jackie Hagan deserves credit for bringing such issues to the fore, however, it does sometimes feel as if more is left unsaid and this cannot always be masked by clever staging and lighting.