Faye Marsay in ROAD
At The Royal Court Theatre
Written by Daen Palma Huse
Faye Marsay, who we shot for The Protagonist Magazine before, excels in her performance both as Louise and Clare at The Royal Court Theatre this season. Judged by her outstanding performance it is hard to believe that this is her professional stage debut. The play is impeccably well presented from costume over set design, lighting and sound.
“Road” is a play by Jim Cartwright that first premiered at The Royal Court Theatre in 1986 and this celebrates its comeback this year at the same venue. The new production directed by John Tiffany is set on a road in the north of England in 1980s Thatcher era and revisits a variety of themes that could not be more current. Through a range of characters that live on the imaginary road, which is brilliantly depicted through clever set design that changes slightly with every scene, the play explores politics and societal dynamics through the everyday: an old woman alone in her kitchen talking, two friends running around on the street looking for a good time whilst drinking, a mother and daughter discussing money.
A cube made of smudged glass panels keeps reappearing on stage playing on the interiors of the flats located on the road, sometimes being used to climb up or danced on and around. The cube is see-through and the distorted voices of the characters inside are sometimes amplified, sometimes the doors are opened and the viewer seems closer to the character. Notions of watching and being watched are explored in the context of the road, something that translates into society of the 1980s as much as now.
One of the strongest scenes is Clare (played by Faye Marsay) and Joey (played by Shane Zaza) lying in bed on a hunger strike. Whilst many moments of the play are outright funny, making the audience not only giggle but laugh out loud, there is an underlying darkness throughout.
Cartwright does not analyse or make political statements as such, but rather gives an account of happenings to the spectator, which makes the play even stronger. With wit and depth this play is undoubtedly an absolute must-see this season with all of the cast delivering their very best performances.