My Left / Right Foot – The Musical @ Assembly Roxy

The National Theatre of Scotland and Birds of Paradise join forces to create an unforgettable new musical

Review by Grace Lavender | 08 Aug 2018

My Left / Right Foot is far from your average musical. Co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and Birds of Paradise, Scotland’s leading disability-orientated theatre company, it's a raucous exploration of what disabled theatre can be.

Written and directed by Birds of Paradise's Robert Softley Gale, the show follows an amateur dramatic society as it attempts to gain more points in an upcoming competition by filling an inclusion and diversity quota. Deciding to adapt the famous film My Left Foot, about the life of the Irish artist and writer Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy, the performers seem unconcerned that they have no disabled actors to play the lead role. What follows is a series of hilarious and sometimes painful blunders, which shed light on to the attitudes of able-bodied people towards those with disabilities.

The original numbers, written by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie, with some songs by Richard Thomas, provide some of the shows greatest moments, with lyrics that leave the audience unsure as to whether they should laugh or cringe. The show is fully equipped with captioning, a BSL interpreter and audio description, demonstrating that theatre can be accessible without being any the less entertaining.

Softley Gale manages to perfectly balance humour and cynicism, completely avoiding the ‘inspiration porn’ tropes that typify films such as My Left Foot. Gasp-worthy slurs and swearing keep the audience laughing uncomfortably, although the show is not devoid of more tender and reflective moments. My Left / Right Foot unashamedly asks questions regarding disability, representation and political correctness and then answers very few of them. It is singular in many ways, and certainly worth a watch.

My Left/Right Foot – The Musical, Assembly Roxy (Central), 1-27 Aug (not 8, 14 or 21), £16-£12) – relaxed show on 19 Aug

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Interview: Birds of Paradise on My Left / Right Foot – The Musical