Road (The Royal Court)

Jim Cartwright’s Road has always been an interesting and important play for me – one of those, like Blood Brothers and The Tempest that evokes memories of A Levels back home on the sunny (drizzly) South Coast.

In this version at The Royal Court, Manc poet Lemn Sissay gives a decent turn as the enigmatic narrator Scullery who floats and flits between flirting with audience members and dipping in and out of scenes. Cartwright’s play shows the inhabitants of down-at-heel Northern everytown which seems as searingly pertinent against a Brexit background as it did in the 1980s, and displays a series of not-all-that-connected but hugely powerful crying out to be used as drama school audition pieces.

Faye Marsay and Shane Zaza punch you in the gut as lovers engaged in a terminal hunger-strike and there are other haunting performances from Mark Hadfield, Michaelle Fairley and June Watson. It’s a play of individual voices that yet somehow, just somehow, seems to speak for a nation and a time.

It’s the best I’ve seen it done.

4/5

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