London is an iconic city, there’s no argument there. While the Palaces, Abbeys, Parks and Monarchs attract millions, the idea of driving through London traffic at any time can give jitters to the world’s most powerful.
So, when I came across a theatre performance that was being performed inside a moving car, with maximum occupancy of two spectators, I grabbed my tickets quicker than a jackrabbit on a date.
Jess and Tom are a young couple, with shallow pockets and big dreams. Nineteen year-old Jess is madly in love with Tom and will do anything to save their relationship. Tom, well he will let Jess do anything to save their relationship. In an effort to make ends meet, Jess has started exchanging favours [of sexual nature] for cash. Tom has completely bought into the idea and officially has taken a keen role as her pimp – obviously Jess doesn’t see it that way, or doesn’t want to believe it.
This particular night has been extra stressful. Tom is on edge because of a mysterious call he keeps receiving. Jess is having doubts about continuing on this path and has a confronting encounter at one of her “meetings”. It’s until Tom pushes Jess to go to one more “meeting” after her horrifying incident, does she realise that it’s not the bills that she’s selling herself for, it’s to fund Tom’s heroin addiction. The show ends with Jess splitting open Tom’s head with a baseball bat in one of the corner streets. Lovely!
I think, conceptually, this is absolutely genius. Taking immersive theatre out on the streets. Giving a new dimension to sight-seeing! When you’re in a performance like that, your brain analyses everything. The guy who braked too hard, the cyclist who whizzed past you, the car that just parked beside you. You start wondering whether the normal people going about their normal life are part of the performance and that is exceptionally clever.
There were a lot of silent spells throughout the performance. Since it was a 50-min performance, the silence drags the time, making the performance feel a lot longer than it is. This may have been a coincidence, but a good strategy nonetheless. However, it is a long time to be staring at the back of peoples’ heads. I think there should have been more dialogue and maybe a touch of audience interaction, to wake them up and draw them back into the performance. For example, Jess could have left her jumper in the back of the car, which she turns around to grab, making eye contact with us and drawing us back in.
Would we do it again?
Not in its current form, but I am glad we got to experience it. This idea of immersive theatre always intrigues me and this one is very much en flique like the city I call home. #LoveLondon.