Writer & Director: Tamsin Fessey and Lynne Forbes
Reviewer: Sophie Huggins
One car, one trip and two forgotten friends; The Drive, intriguingly told by renowned devised theatre company Angel Exit, is an honest two-hander that forces not only a confrontation with the past but more importantly – how it is remembered. Currently in development, this production is reviewed ahead of a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
When estranged university friends Becky (Lynne Forbes) and Nat (Tamsin Fessey) receive an unexpected letter from a mutual, but sadly dead friend requesting a favour, the pair are forced to salvage their splintered friendship and face the shared ghosts in their pasts. The car, a clever geometric design complete with an adjustable rear-view mirror and fold-down seats, designed by Yoon Bae, becomes their home during an ambitious road trip from London to Oslo. It also becomes the hub of the action with both performers effortlessly moving and weaving around this point of focus, displaying slick physical highlights to a cool contemporary soundtrack, an impressive original composition by Tom Ball. Both the ensemble performers have an excellent acute awareness of each other and respond accordingly in each moment and therefore, are entirely present throughout. Impressively, all the set changes are made by the duo, and the care taken when doing so is entirely reflective of the play’s themes of constructing one’s own story. It is clear nothing has gone unnoticed in this production – there is an underlying purpose to every element and this is a huge contributor to its success.
Etched into the programme are the words “memory is an artist as much as it is a scientist” and directors Fessey and Forbes certainly play with memory as a creative tool, using impressive video projections to capture its fragility. The projections, designed by Elliot Manches, have intricate detail and by having the performers construct them, be it with a frame, a screen or even a fleeting bug crawling on an arm, this can only provide a fitting metaphor for one’s desire to grab onto the past but the inevitable inability to do so.
The dialogue, also by Fessey and Forbes is authentic in both its creation and delivery. There are gentle awkward breezes that float between the friend’s words that are a fitting and resonant capture of a forgotten friendship. There is also a direct conversation, underscoring the piece, with the audience; a play within a play that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, enabling the performers to come out of character and comment on their role in constructing the narrative. Although there is the desire for a stronger set up from the beginning, once established, this device is wonderfully engaging and allows the piece to emerge into a charming parody of itself and is a hilarious and integral aspect of the storytelling.
A touching physical whirlwind full of quirky humour and high energy, The Drive breathes youth and humanity into the frumpy 40-something, middle-aged image, whilst maintaining a genuine truth. The multiple interesting, bold and humorous choices are a credit to Angel Exit’s creativity and their utter commitment to telling a particular story. In a world that lacks stability and nothing in the future is certain, Nat’s words “I’m taking control of the narrative” ring truer than ever and this story is a journey recognisable to all.
Reviewed on 7 July 2017 | Image: Contributed