Musicals

 

 

 

 

A review by Alex Harrod for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Greenwich Theatre and Filament Theatre present

 

 Drive Ride Walk

 

Composed by: Osnat Schmool

 

Director: Sabina Netherclift

 

Stratford Circus

2- 5 Mar 2011

Jacksons Lane

16 – 19 Mar 2011


 

In Drive Ride Walk, music-theatre company Filament Theatre, supported by Greenwich Theatre’s Artist Development Programme discuss a topic which is close to the heart of every Londoner - transport.

Interspersed with several Tube rides, Drive Ride Walk follows three groups of people as they all use different modes of transport to make their way around London. With a cast of nine, the performers do an excellent job of recreating the tension, panic and irritability that the city’s crowded streets and overstretched traffic systems cause on a daily basis. That most of the script is sung a cappella makes this achievement all the more notable.

What I liked most about the performance was how it reminded the audience of something we all know, but often, in our haste, forget – that every stranger we bump into and share a bus lane or pavement with is as much a real person as we are. People trip and fall, frustrate us when they can’t find their Oyster card at the top of the escalator, and infuriate us by suddenly stopping in the middle of the street for no apparent reason. Within seconds, though, they are out of sight and gone from our minds forever. Drive Ride Walk follows these people after they have disappeared and shows us that they, like us, all have their own problems and reasons to be stressed.

Along with the beautifully coordinated singing and the often humorous choreography, there are one or two genuinely poignant moments here. Although it has been told many times before, the story of the unfulfilled call centre worker (Stuart King) is as touching as it is true. The same can be said of Nick Trumble’s character, whose family illness we slowly hear more about through occasional snippets of telephone conversation. In fact, some of the best moments in Drive Ride Walk were spoken, rather than sung. The musical side of the production, of course, is vital to its success, but the moments when it wasn’t required revealed the cast members to be true actors, as well as performers.

Ultimately, though, Drive Ride Walk belonged to the car journey it described. After Rah (Theo Ogundipe) passes his test, we are taken along with him on his first drive. This recurring scene was convincingly performed and, at times, very funny. Although everyone interacted well, it was passenger Nathaniel Morrison who was perhaps the most memorable – his enthusiastic facial expressions, movements and vocal outbursts kept the audience very much engaged.

Composed by Osnat Schmool, who also plays one of the lead roles, the diverse a cappella score suited Drive Ride Walk very well. The show began with the cast walking on stage to a sparse, haunting melody that was repeated at several points throughout the performance, whilst the driving scene strayed into rap/hip-hop territory at one point, and was augmented by pounding human percussion. Other than occasional cello and accordion (which was played onstage by cast members), Drive Ride Walk’s singers performed without accompaniment and did so impressively. The cast worked well together and their harmonies soared as if they were twice their number. Sabina Netherclift’s direction was flawless, allowing the action to flow fluently, making the complex choreography appear simple. Each actor was given just the right amount of focus so that they, and the performance as a whole could excel. If there were any faults with Drive Ride Walk, it would be that the lightning did not always reflect the constantly changing dynamics in the show. As we quickly moved from scene to scene and character to character, it seemed as though this aspect of the production perhaps wasn’t quite adventurous enough to keep up.

Stratford Circus is another example of the modern theatres that happily seem to be in abundance in London. Less than five minutes walk from Stratford station, and situated next to Theatre Royal, it is an attractive and elegant building in which innovative performances like this can feel at home.

Drive Ride Walk is a play about London and could not work nearly as well anywhere outside of it. Although this may limit any national success it might have enjoyed, it is most definitely successful in what it set out to achieve – a funny and touching take on the London transport system that, let’s face it, we all like to think of as our own.

 

Box Office: 0844 357 2625 (Stratford Circus) / 020 8341 4421 (Jacksons Lane)
Theatre websites: greenwichtheatre.org.uk / stratford-circus.com / jacksonslane.org.uk
Theatre address: Greenwich Theatre, Croom’s Hill, SE10 8ES / Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, E15 1BX / 269a Archway Road, Highgate, N6 5AA
Ticket prices: £15, £12.50, £10. Concessions and groups - £5 off top price (Greenwich Theatre) / £9/£6 (Stratford Circus) / £12.95/£10.95 (Jacksons Lane)
 


Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved