"A Stunning Tour de force"
by David Rumelle on 04/05/13

A Tour de force-plain and simple!

Not only is "Road" one of the most powerful plays to have emerged in the 80's-and it's issues still as totally relevant today ,as when it was written-but this production is well served by it's direction, cast and design.

Under the guidance of the rum soaked wideboy, Scullery, we are taken on an evening's tour of a scruffy, depressed road in a small Lancashire town. Moving from street corner to living room, from bedroom to kitchen we meet the inhabitants, young, middle aged and old, glimpsing their socially and emotionally wretched lives in this sharp, sad, funny and angry play. (A kind of "Under Milk Wood" for the 80's)

What is incredible about this production is that cast and crew have created an environment out of the performance space-that one becomes a part of upon entering the auditorium. We are therefore completely integrated into this world-and the excellent cast are not afraid to mix, mingle, involve us at every available opportunity and establish close eye contact. As an audience-we could almost smell the drink and certainly the waft of Brut-that is used at one point! The cast even sit amongst us and climb through windows in the wall.
A montage of 80's music and commercials-completes the set up-before we are off on our whirlwind tour.
Every scene is finely tuned and beautifully portrayed-and there is not a weak link in this fine cast. Particularly stunning are the monologues of Martin Malone as the professor and Jack Healy Guttmann as Skinlad. However- equally moving are the speeches from Janette Eddisford and Janice Cremer -the latter having every nuance and timing of our very own Dora Bryan.
A long scene in a bedroom-(in fact in bed) is never allowed to lose its focus and momentum-thanks to the moving performance and skilful light and shade presented by Sean Williams as Joey.
The action continues during the interval -as a brief interlude at the local pub-with the superb Martin Jenkins as Scullery singing ala Karaoke in the theatre bar and cast dancing with the audience-morphing both acts into one.
The climax of the evening focuses on a sexually charged encounter between four of our characters. The tensions and sheer energy created by the four actors, drives the evening to it's conclusion in a thrilling and emotionally harrowing way. But the naturalistic quality and superb timing of these performers leaves a long lasting impression on us all.
All the dialects are well studied and Julian Kerridge's direction is exemplary.
In short-I cannot find a single point of criticism in this production (apart from maybe putting a cassette in Scullery's Waltham cassette recorder!) It is a fine showcase for all involved and ACTS should be rightly proud of such outstanding talent.
Catch the show while you can until 1st June.

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