The collected interviews of Jim Mulligan

A comedy based on appalling truths

Thus the high plummet, the low leap.

Discontented Winter: House Remix is the third play Bryony Lavery has had commissioned for the Connections project. It is also a major departure from her previous work in that her other plays, while relevant to young people, could be performed by adults in the mainstream theatre.

Remix is absolutely for young people and needs the energy of the age group it is written for. This is especially for them. It is something they can do better than anybody else in the world. It is also comedy, and while you're writing it you have the black dog on your shoulder snarling, 'It's got to be funny.'

The discontented winter of the title is a clear reference to Richard III. The language of Roman’s opening rant, as in Richard's first soliloquy, is raw and self abusive, with self-loathing that is the justification for the actions to come. In this play, however, the villainy is shared out among the hoodlums, and it leaves room for Ronan to have grace and to do some good. The squabbles for power between the warring factions and the willingness to bump off rivals (in this play only contemplated) also resemble the violence of the Shakespeare play.

Remix in the title gives companies a chance to remix the words using scratching, blending and repeats - all the techniques young people are familiar with from DJ-ing and rapping.

The only music I don't care for is rap music, but I decided to pay some attention and I discovered it is actually very interesting. It is where the meat of protest and disturbance lies. Now obviously I couldn't just put raps in. I had to do it my way. So I conceived the idea of sampling the play. The analogy of a video is apt here. The words are there but the production can cut words or repeat them or use effects. I've bled in bits of Shakespeare and Friends and Dawson's Creek so, if I can do it, they can do it. I find that really exciting.

The comedy of Remix lies in the situation, the language and the characters. These elements combine in moments that are hilarious but not so funny seen in the light of the stratification of our society, the violence, the terrorism and the ring of steel that surrounds our politicians and royalty - which can be penetrated by a comedian dressed up as Osama bin Laden. The story is that two princes are to be kidnapped by two groups, one of whose leaders Serena, wants to marry a prince, while the other, Ronan, wants a ransom. In the confusion and mix-up, Slapper and Ed fall in love and Hal decides that Serena is the tart whose legs he can get between. He might as well, in other words, marry her. Thus the high plummet, the low leap.

This comedy is both tongue-in-cheek and serious. It is based on some appalling truths. I'm a Republican. I think the notion of us still kow-towing to a group of individuals because of the family they were born into is ludicrous. I can't believe we're still doing it. It makes my blood boil, but I need that kind of anger to fuel my designs and endeavours. I want my play to subvert people, to alchemise them or at least to get them to change their minds.

The characters in Remix are clearly divided into three groups: the Princes, the Top Totties and the Low Streeties, while Cheviot is on a different plane from them all - a detached observer, and girl anorak, absolutely isolated in a world of fantasy, but who in the end emerges to save people. All these characters, coming from social groups that are divided by chasms of wealth, influence and privilege, use very similar language, characterized by a foul-mouthed lewdness which heightens poetic rhythms, images, contrasts and verbal shock. What will distinguish them on stage will not be the words they use but their accents, demeanour, gesture, body language and dress.

If there is one quality that permeates Remix it must be incongruity. There is a manic dog, upper-class women who behave like sluts, princes who behave like gangsters, a slapper who is generous and loving, bodyguards who attempt to rise up as the New Model Army, and the other characters who swirl around creating chaos or order as required. The play appears to be about young people trying to control their circumstances by kidnapping authority figures. Both Serena and Ronan have clearly expressed dreams, huge aspirations for celebrity and respect; but their versions of these are flawed because society is flawed. Serena wants to be the Queen of Hearts with all the references and overtones that concept carries, and Ronan wants to be the Stephen Hawking of hoodlums, which for a disabled person is a poignant role model. Their solution to society's ills will be sorted if the world is ruled by the Teen-Green Government.

In control of all the action are the storm makers of the Flash Mob who rule the entire world of the play. They are anarchic technological wizards who could if they wanted, simply by using mobile phones, organise a rave for 10,000 people in the field in Hertfordshire, or gridlock a city on a whim. As Ronan uses his massive remote control to fast forward, to repeat, to reverse, the storm makers bring on the storm that ends the play. Bryony Lavery encourages those who are involved in Remix to go mad with invention and to be sane with caution. Everything in the play has to be invented, but at the same time there has to be selection so that it is both adventurous and artful.

I called it House Remix because I wanted each theatrical house to remix it in their own way This is a big show for the big stage and I want all the most adventurous directors to go for it. I've made it daunting for the faint-hearted and enticing for the bold of heart.