By Mike Elliston

Trailer/trash flyer


Frankie and Shyanne live their lives if they’re stars of their very own movie – they just don’t know it.

It’s a buddy movie without the popcorn, a road trip without the car.

Playing against type and exploring the American Dream, sexual exploitation and gender identity, Trailer/trash is a fierce comedy that embraces the young and feisty Frankie, a waitress in a backwater diner who hates her job, her body and longs to be a man, and an ageing Afro- American stripper, Shyanne, who dreams of becoming a star in Las Vegas, but has lived too long with a lifetime of regrets.

I call this “trash theatre”; their lives are lived out in a theatrical version of a movie set, somewhere deeply south in the USA. Despite fragments of seemingly empty lives played put in front of their imaginary audience, Frankie and Shyanne remain rich and colourful in their dreams since these represent the hope of better things to come. It’s the American Dream, after all.


TRAILER/trash - Theatre Review, Milton Keynes Fringe Festival

Carly Halse – Female Arts Magazine

TRAILER/trash - Review

You always know you’re going to get a show when you attend a performance by The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company, and TRAILER/trash was no exception. Set on the back porch of a typical American trailerpark trailer, it features just the two characters – waning stripper Shyanne and confused transgender kid Frankie.

The writer – Mike Elliston – has an incredibly experienced CV as a playwright, and his know-how showed throughout. It was actually billed as both drama and comedy and although there were some genuinely funny exchanges, it was a lot more nuanced than that. As the stories of his two characters emerged, intertwined and developed, I began to hope they would achieve the happy ending of which they increasingly dreamed – although of course life very rarely ends up like that! I look forward to seeing his next collaboration with the company: “Austerity - The Musical”, due this Autumn!

With just two actors on stage throughout, it can sometimes be the case that they are forced to carry a lot of work between them. However, they were more than up to the task. Karlina Grace’s Shyanne was a convincing juxtaposition of brittleness and world-weary warmth, while Ellie Coleman played Frankie with naïve optimism undercut with a sharp edge. These unlikely bedfellows – and I enjoyed the fact that this was never declared to be the literal case – find something in each other’s friendship that makes them feel differently about themselves. Better about themselves. The references to Thelma & Louise were a clever echo of a film to which TRAILER/trash owed a debt thematically but was simultaneously subverting with the more realistic (and less mainstream) characters of Shyanne and Frankie.

I got a real feeling from the production that it had been painstakingly directed by Rosemary Hill – one positive aspect of having a two-person cast is that really detailed work can be done to fine-tune the performances and the staging. Frankie and Shyanne both convinced, and the story bounced along at a pleasing pace.

The MK Gallery Event Space is a venue I have never seen used for theatre before, but it was made to work very well. The staging and set (by Kevin Jenkins) was vividly constructed, the trailer exterior and verandah space seemed at once both natural and filmic. The soundscape which accompanied the play – like the stage equivalent of a movie soundtrack – was atmospheric without being intrusive. Even the noise of the skateboarders outside in Margaret Powell Square somehow added to the down-home ambience, though I’m sure that was a happy accident! James Tearle’s lighting design also formed an integral part to the play – almost a third character at times with its strikingly visual evocation of the sun setting and rising across the trailer park.

All in all, very impressive. A refreshingly ambitious production by a refreshingly ambitious company. and a worthy star of this year’s MK Fringe Festival.

Matthew Taylor – Monkey Kettle


  • Ana Diego - 22 August 2016

    Rosemary, I’ve just got home from Trailer Trash. Wow. Just wow! I have to say this is your best production to date. It all gelled so well together, from the talented actresses to the great directing. From the subtle back ground soundscapes and music, to the great lighting. Then there was Kevin’s touch throughout, to transport you into their world. Thank you for such a fantastic experience.

  • Bart Gamber - 22 August 2016

    Congratulations to The Play’s The Thing and everyone involved for a superb production of Trailer Trash. I saw it last night and really loved it. Funny and moving in equal measures, with great performances, set, costumes, sound and lighting, it kicked off the Fringe Festival in style! Well done, everybody.

  • Chris Gallagher - 22 August 2016

    What a fabulous performance…we lived and loved every minute of it. Definitely West End quality!

  • Julian Mark Self - 22 August 2016

    This was a stunning production. Both Frankie and Shyanne were utterly absorbing and convincing characters, drawing us into their lives so we could feel their hopes and their pain vividly. The production was beautifully scripted with some really clever twists and linguistic plays. Thank-you, thank-you for a wonderful performance and a fabulous evening.

  • Sean Calvert - 22 August 2016

    If you have tickets for this evening’s last performance of this incredible play then I am very, very envious of you. Rosemary I am still thinking about this play this morning. It is moving and funny and the writing is amazing and the acting is superb.

    Today I am going to ‘Be more whale’

  • Paul William Hands - 22 August 2016

    This play is just awesome. If you are in Milton Keynes tomorrow evening please go and see this! I laughed, I cried and most of the time I just wanted to get on stage with two very talented actors and join in. Great writing, amazing directing and the lighting was bloody awesome too!!!

  • Jayne Siddiqi - 22 August 2016

    Fantastic performance ! I would urge you all to go tomorrow night you will not be disappointed!! Well done Mike & Co.

  • Janet Croston - 22 August 2016

    This is the most amazing depiction of two lives. It is such powerful drama, I was in there living it, right alongside Frankie and Shyanne. This is Theatre doing exactly what the best theatre should do – making us laugh and cry, engaging hearts and souls, turning our emotional volume switch to max, and kicking our assumptions up the ass. You got one last chance to see this, peeps. 8pm at MK Gallery Space. Dont miss it.

  • Katherine Luna Gate - 22 August 2016

    Absolutely stunning performance from Karlina and Elinor tonight: Trailer/trash is a beautifully written piece of humanity that leaves us all somehow deeply involved. Thanks to Mike and Rosemary for a special theatre experience.

  • Georgy Holden - 22 August 2016

    Just been to see Trailer Trash, a play that is part of the MK Fringe Festival, it was excellent. A two person play tackling some difficult issues but both funny and moving in good measure. It is on again tomorrow in the MK Gallery event space (8pm), catch it if you can.

  • Sean Calvert - 22 August 2016

    You have GOT to go and see Trailer Trash at the MK Gallery Event Space. Rosemary you have done the most amazing job. Can’t remember the last time I have laughed and cried so much in the theatre.

    Please, please, please go and see ‘Trailer/Trash’ at the MK Gallery Event Space. It is a beautiful, moving and wonderful piece of theatre. Written by Mike
    Elliston and produced and directed by Rosemary Hill. It stars Elinor Coleman as Frankie and Karlina Grace-Paseda as Shyanne. Both give incredible performances and this evening’s standing ovation was so well deserved.

    Kevin Jenkins design is spot on, the lightning and tech is faultless.

    I haven’t laughed and cried so much for ages.

    Only one performance left – trust me – GO SEE IT!!!

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