The pine tree design by Camilla Clarke provides a subtle serenity, juxtaposing the trauma of war in Bad Roads – a series of sparsely connected stories by Natal’ya Vorozhbit around her home country of Ukraine. Six scenes paint the picture, not only of soldiers disenfranchised in a time of civil unrest, but of the women caught up amid the horror and heartache that represents the fallout from the fighting. Vicky Featherstone’s powerful direction supports the actors’ portrayal – a constant rollercoaster of dynamic volume that nevertheless fails to consistently galvanise Vorozhbit’s overall conceptual picture.
This is the story of Jayaben Desai, the 1976-78 Grunwick strike instigator who walked out of the North-West London factory in support of a sacked co-worker, uttering the memorable phrase, We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager. Neil Gore’s retelling of this story is one equally full of passion and guts; one which honours and pays homage to a poignant moment in socialist history, in a decade when striking was the only way for the working class to be heard. But, for all its ferocity and righteousness, this production does not conjure the same level of heightened emotion needed to effectively paint a picture of the struggle that the strikers faced.
Three Mothers, each with three stories; three relationships with their children; three reflections on their sense of belonging, of home – more specifically, on migration. One is a mother who sends her son away for a better life; one who herself returns to where she grew up; one is running away from her homeland to her motherland with her precious babe.
We all know who these characters are, but they’re never named, so in theory they could be anyone. A professor (Simon Rouse) whose theory of relativity transformed the scientific field; an actress (Alice Bailey Johnson) instantly recognisable for her platinum blonde hair, white dress and signature beauty spot; a baseball player (Oliver Hembrough) who married the actress and has a nasty temper; a senator (Tom Mannion) who uses bullying, machismo tactics to get what he wants.
Tryst: A private, romantic rendezvous between two lovers, conducted with no one else’s knowledge. Perhaps they wouldn’t approve, perhaps they would recognise the affair for what it is – a predatory act from a man to con a woman out of her worldly possessions. That’s why George Love (Fred Perry) keeps his business a secret at least – Perry is a weasel, a smarmy character out only for himself and convincingly greasy in his underhanded intentions. He is less convincing as the faux romantic, a pretence to marry Adelaide Pinchin (Natasha J Barnes) and cheat her out of some inheritance. It’s meant to feel forced and false, but it doesn’t translate with conviction onstage.