Blank brick walls with a beaten up solitary sign reading ‘Road’ greets the audience with a sparsity of spirit that is all too common in the depiction of the working class north . This road is the beginning and end of the world for the people who call it home – epitomised in Scullery’s (Jamie Bowman) opening monologue praising the perfect location in between two pubs and a chippy. He then takes on the role of inebriated, omnipresent guide, revealing the secrets of the road with a considered and tender, almost paternal affection.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Jamie Bowman’s protagonist is the stand out performance, there is a constant, drunken mischievous glint in his eye, aided I suspect by some lighting technician’s skullduggery which serves to show the breadth of talent on display. A similar uncanny depiction of drunkenness was exhibited by the whole cast, playing various degrees of intoxication with consummate accuracy, it was hard to believe that they hadn’t had a residency in V bar since midday.
At times it seemed as if the form was monologue punctuated by monologue. To a certain extent this approach led to the individual’s more intricate thoughts becoming lost in a bombardment of different consciousnesses. However, this sense of fragmentation did serve to show the fragility within the individual characters which, combined with the soft lighting during these frequent monologues, effectively emphasised the disparity between the characters’ humanity – a visceral struggle to create a life for themselves – and the setting of the anonymous and soulless ‘Road’. Something that they, as characters in a play titled with such indistinctiveness, are destined never to shake off. The various monologues were strikingly poetic; the words were both instinctual and dripping intellect and the delivery, although occasionally lavish, succeeded in portraying the sheer emotion brought about by these intimate moments on stage with one or occasionally two characters.
The interval served as a real turning point. Waiting outside to the soundtrack of ‘like a virgin’ seeping through the slightly ajar drama barn door gave the audience a slight buzz not dissimilar to the expectation of waiting in line to be granted entry to any number of familiar establishments. And walking in, it was Willow. The cast continuing in the same fine inebriated vein, a bottle of hooch must have made its way around mid-interval. Scullery, particularly visible, making his way unsteadily around the room (the glint still there) and an audacious drunken smile to go with it, his leery eye catching those of the audience as they made their way back in.
The climactic scene witnessed the aforementioned visceral poetry, which had been solely the preserve of individuals in all previous forms, spill out into a late night drunken group slam blowout. With an Otis Redding record playing on a turntable for the backing track, this communal letting go of inhibitions signs off the production with the idea that the strength to overcome can be found within a group – a group found living exclusively on that nameless Road.