American company Savio(u)r productions have brought Autobahn, a collection of seven short plays by Neil LaBute (who’s play In A Forest Dark and Deep played at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2011), to London’s Kings Head Theatre in Islington.
I’ve always loved the Kings Head. There is something about having a tiny venue in the back room of a pub that feels unapologetically raw and intense and the productions that are staged there are (usually) very well suited to the feel of the venue.
Tim Sullivan (Director) and Zoe Swenson-Graham (who plays the role of girl/woman in several of the short plays) are the Artistic Directors of Savio(u)r productions, which prides itself of producing shows by American playwrights in London. Having been doing this for the last five years, they are now considering flipping the tables and taking English playwrights work back to America.
These seven short plays are all connected by the theme of travelling across America. From the young girl who believes her boyfriend has driven her to a particular place just to end their relationship (and goes on to recall memories of when previous boyfriends tried to do this to her, revealing her dark and sinister side) to a school teacher who has convinced his young student to drive across America with him (where his intentions may not be as innocent as she believes), these plays cover all emotions from humour to uncomfortableness. Each scene has two characters, although these are mostly one person monologues (with the other character being spoken to).
Zoe Swenson-Graham is sweet and loveable, playing mostly young teenage girls. Her on-stage simple costume changes between scenes allow the audience to acknowledge the transformation from one character to another. Her voice adapts well to characters she is playing, from the whiney young girl to the more serious adult. Sharon Maughan also gives a great performance in her three monologues as the older of the two women. Sharon is possibly best known for playing the role of Tricia Williams in Holby City and was also the face of the Nescafe Gold Blend television adverts! Tom Slater and Henry Everett complete the cast of four, playing the male roles of the boyfriends and husbands.
The set for Autobahn is simple, with just the front of a car facing the audience (to which two characters in each play would sit). Behind the car was a screen with different american road horizons shown to make it look like the car was travelling. I couldn’t’ help but think it might have been more impactful to have a video projection to really give the feel the car was in motion, although there were some good sound effects used to demonstrate this.
Savio(u)r productions have done a good job with Autobahn, brining an interesting American show to London. Its well worth heading down to the Kings Head Theatre and checking it out while its on. I look forward to seeing what they do next!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Autobahn plays at the Kings Head Theatre until 20 September 2014. Click here for tickets.
Huge thanks to Official Theatre for arranging a wonderful Bloggers Event to see this show. It’s always nice to be able to meet other bloggers with a passion for theatre (and the wine is always flowing too!)