A trip to the Oldham Coliseum usually provides a gem of a show, and ‘Road’ did not disappoint. The play explores an array of characters, some loud, some rough, some lonely, some misunderstood, and some tormented, who live on a Lancashire street in 1987. An evening of real-life moments told through monologue and dialogue; we hear about Northern people with Northern problems. Although set in 1987 this play explores issues which clearly resonates with some northern towns today, more than 30 years later.
The set captured the essence of Lancashire life, transforming between exterior windows, living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens. The use of running water, and everyday sound effects such as barking dogs and fireworks, enhanced the real-life atmosphere, providing a sense of familiarity.
The cast made use of varying levels, particularly the narrator character Scullery (played by Richard J Fletcher). Richard starts the piece off with high energy, bouncing from windowsills to shopping trollies, and maintains his enthusiasm throughout; Richard makes us care about the street and its inhabitants. John Askew (who plays Joey/Eddie/Soldier) brings an intensity to his roles which cannot be ignored. The audience listen and watch the shocking depiction of a boy, Joey, in such despair that he goes on a hunger strike to discover what more there is to life. John’s physical performance has the audience in awe and discomfort, while Alyce Liburd captivates the audience with her versatility. Alyce effortlessly depicts a wide range of characters from young to old, and pairs with John as Joey to depict the heart wrenching hunger strike moment.
The eighties soundtrack to the play took us back through the decades and allowed the audience to go on a nostalgic trip back to another time, but also served to highlight the stark prevalence with today. One cannot help but wonder how different the play may be if it had been transposed to modern day, through costume, set and music, and what this may have offered its audience. However, it was clear that nostalgia formed a big part of the audience’s attraction and enjoyment towards the piece. Audience members were provided with light relief in the form of shoulder pad slips and 80s throwbacks.
Take the road to Oldham Coliseum and see ‘Road’ while it runs until October 1st. https://www.coliseum.org.uk/
Reviewer: Amanda Sarah Hodgson
Reviewed: 27th September 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★