By S Mulvihill
Anyone who has ever taken a trip in the wee small hours of the morning on public transport in the UK will recognise, sometimes with cringing discomfort, sometimes with relish, some of the characters and situations brought to the stage by Linda Marlowe and Sarah Louise Young in this hour long lunchtime production that sits somewhere between a sketch show and a comic play. Comic might be a term that doesn’t obviously come to the fore on first appraisal of Night Bus, but scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find a smart humour which is at times dark enough to set the scene for boarding.
The set is sparse: six plastic chairs which are moved around depending on the bus layout and characters and the two performers are armed with a couple of handbags containing only essential props. Indeed, everything about this show is stripped to the bare essentials: the lighting continually dim, the sound effects predominantly that of a bus bell dinging between the scenes, with a basic smattering of music to boost the livelier characters. All this allows for the strength of the performances to shine through and they are strong performances, especially that of Young who seamlessly slips from persona to persona, physically and vocally. The only let down is that the accents are often very close but imprecise, and though that will only really bother the pedants in the audience, for them it will be distracting. The scenes vary from entirely realistic, through slightly wishful thinking to downright surreal. Sometimes the characterisation and movement feel a little like a devised piece from drama school, but segments like the two Australians lesbians and the unhinged Polish bus driver make up for any amateurishness in the rest of the play.
There is an undercurrent of feminism throughout this whole piece, not in a negative man-bashing sense, but by highlighting the way women are treated and considered on a day to day basis. Night Bus offers a perfect setting to explore this, as the blurred lines and consciousness of night often serve to illuminate truth in people, when they are at their most exposed. Overall this is a curious piece, full of wry humour and thought provoking performed by two very talented and engaging actors.
Until 25th August 13:00 (1hr) at Pleasance Courtyard