Jim Cartwright’s plays are usually gritty, observant and, at times, humorous and Road is no exception. The play takes us back to Thatcher’s Britain and is set in a northern town during the 1980s. Whilst set in the past it does not feel overly dated (the only thing missing from today is the endless time spent on/wandering around attached to mobile devices!). Cartwright’s writing manages to convey the desperation and abandonment felt by many in towns blighted by high unemployment.
Whilst the play does not really have a story (it is a series of sketches about the comings and goings of the Road’s residents as seen through Scullery’s (Dickon Farmar) eyes), it is a very busy piece with lots going on. Dan Usztan’s direction is very good, managing to knit all the various scenes together well. The set consists of cosy/tatty furniture with a road to the rear of the stage. Rob Ellis’s 1980s soundtrack is very good and helps to link all the scenes well. Lily Ann Coleman’s costume is fantastic and, for me, a great trip down memory lane; outfits included a ‘lumberjack’ jacket and ‘box’ jackets for the boys and ‘rah-rah’ skirts and big hair for the girls.
Each member of the seven-strong, mostly young, cast play 3 or 4 characters. All of them move from scene to scene/sketch to sketch seamlessly and they do work very well together. Each sketch starting out full of hope before ending in disappointment and, in one case, tragedy.
Farmar leads the play as our narrator and guide, Scullery. Scullery is usually found drinking and wryly observing the various comings and goings of the residents. Farmars’s delivery is excellent and in keeping with the piece. The stand out performance, for me, came from Susan Brodie whose portrayal of four very different, yet similar women, is well balanced and her delivery of her lines is excellent.
The final sketch is emotional and thought-provoking and really helps you appreciate (and in my case, remember!) the desperation of some people’s lives at this time.
Review by Karen Pond
Cast and Creatives
Scullery – Dickon Farmar
Louise/Lane/Clare/Linda – Emily Grimson
Brother/Brink/Bald/Joey/Curt – Tom Redican
Brenda/Molly/Mrs Bald/Helen/Marion – Sue Brodie
Carol/Dor/Chantal/Valerie – Clare
Eddie/Skin Lad/Barry/Blowpipe/Soldier – Christopher Sherwood
Eddie’s Dad/Professor /Jerry/Brian – Richard Pederson
Dan Usztan – Director
Jim Cartwright – Writer
Set Design Jude Chalk
Costume Design – Lily Ann Coleman
Sound Design – Rob Ellis
by Jim Cartwright
Evenings at 7.30 Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th November
Matinée at 3.00 Saturday 5th November
The Tower Theatre performing at the Bridewell Theatre, off Fleet Street