DRIVE THRU by Blink Dance Theatre is an immersive, multi-sensory dance theatre show, onboard a minibus. What’s not to like?
Written, co-directed and performed by artists with learning disabilities, it is aimed at neurodiverse adults. The minibus is not incidental to the story, nor to the staging. The performers remain outside, conjuring up the world beyond the windows, as we travel past ambiguous scenes of a car wash, (really quite cute) monsters, into a tornado, space, through the ocean or clouds, up, up and away.
Set to a soundtrack composed for the production, performers introduce themselves, move and dance around the bus, interacting through the glass and inviting us to go on a journey – and party – with them. This is a performance in the round, with bus windows reinterpreted as proscenium arches. Yet there is an intimacy in having someone spreading pink and blue foam or washing it away, inviting us to clap or stay cool in the heat, dance or recoil from demons, just a foot away, on the other side of the pane.
It is a playful meditation on the voyeurism that comes from speeding through the sights and scenery of a long coach journey. When you never stop to take a longer look at the things which you whizz past, they can take on an unreal quality. In this production, the spectacles have the opportunity to linger for a while. Ultimately, we’ll be invited to make a decision for ourselves – to carry on or go back home. Nobody could complain we hadn’t been properly acquainted with both these options.
At forty-five minutes long, the show is actually at the shorter end of coach trips, and does not overstay its welcome. The audience, including a couple of babes-in-arms, left with smiles on their faces, and I felt a joy at the creation of something completely new. There is no complex or involved narrative, and what story was there was hinted at and down to interpretation. This is pretty much par for the course for dance, but those more into traditional theatre might not find what they’re anticipating or hoping for.
As you might expect from a company that involves a diverse group of creatives at every stage, the multi-sensory elements are not an add-on, but fully integrated into the show. For the breadth of neurodiverse adults, this performance has in mind, it will surely be a rich seam of delights. Currently showing in Deptford, I’d hope this show will go on tour to a theatre car park near you. After all: has minibus, will travel!
Review by Ben Ross
DRIVE THRU is a new immersive multi-sensory dance and theatre experience written, co-directed and performed by artists with learning disabilities and is aimed at neurodiverse adults. From the comfort of their own minibus audience members will be transported into another world through dance, theatre and music in this fantasy-based experience.
Set to bespoke beats, everyday soundscapes and a contemporary hip hop and electronica musical score
the audience finds themselves in a gritty urban carpark. A group of people are fed up of planet earth, as they discover their minibus can fly as it passes through blue and purple clouds. They meet some mysterious larger than life, strange yet friendly magical creatures including Handy Mandy – a non-binary mysterious guru, The Eye Hero’s – a cheeky duo with eyes on stalks that can see everything and Noseasaurus Rex- the cold-blooded slime ball on the search for his next meal, who will guide them to a magic lamp. Their adventure takes them through a tornado, coloured foam and soothing water jets but will the people decide to live with the creatures in their magical world or return back down to earth… the choice is theirs.