REVIEW: ON TRACK @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH
🎭 On Track
📍 The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Thursday 16th March 2023
Last night I was back at Theatre Royal Plymouth for the second time this week! This time I was in The Drum to watch a brand new play called On Track.
On Track is a co-production between RedCape Theatre and South Street Arts and takes us back to March 2020 when lockdown hit the country. It explores one woman's journey as her world shrinks and she juggles home schooling, work commitments, fitness and keeping herself sane!
This is a one woman show which is expertly performed by Pip Hambly. Using just a few props and being confined to an open cube she was able to create an utterly believable world. She had the audience on side from the very beginning and took us along her journey with ease.
The script is not overly complicated but is relatable to everyone. Her character is called Kit and is a single mum of two (and I'm obviously not!) but her anxieties and stresses spoke to every one of us as we all went through the lockdowns together and experienced similar emotions.
This was a very physical piece of theatre and there was tremendous use of props throughout. Her two daughters Lexi, aged seven, and Danielle, aged fifteen, were portrayed by shoes! It sounds crazy, but it was almost as if you could visualise the girls because of how the shoes were used. You could see the moody teenager sat nonchalantly on the sofa and little Lexi cuddled up to her mum.
it was also interesting how the younger girls shoes were hung and the older girls were placed on a platform. I felt that this signified the fact that the younger girl still needed her mums support but the older girl was at the age where she doesn't want parental help to navigate life.
As the mum takes some time to herself sat on the loo she listens to the radio and hears people speak of cycling which encourages her to uncover her bicycle in the garage. Although she doesn't leave the garage, she becomes obsessed with cycling. She buys books about the history of women in the sport and gets all the right clothing and accessories!
Cycling becomes her escape from the mundane lifestyle brought on by lockdown and is her freedom from responsibility. She tends to do it when the girls are in bed but it sort of takes over her life as she becomes fixated with it. Her work starts to suffer and her Joe Wicks fitness plan goes out of the window!
Even though the cycling was a central theme of the play, I felt that the focus was really on the characters mental health and coping capabilities. We all found a focus in the lockdown, something to distract our minds from what was happening and for this character it was cycling.
The staging was very effective for this piece. Effectively a small cube in the middle of the stage. The play began with Kit outside the cube talking to the audience but as soon as lockdown hit she was thrust back into the cube and that's where she remained throughout. It was only at the very end she left the confined space when. she went for a midnight bike ride down her road.
The set design relied heavily on the use of props which was done extremely well and the sounds, such as birds chirping and news reports, worked well throughout the piece.
The use of a torch through the bicycle wheels was very effective and I enjoyed the Charlie Chaplin-esque comedy when Kit was in a moment of escapism!
Overall this was an enjoyable piece of theatre and Hambly managed to keep the audience engaged throughout and received well deserved applause at the conclusion of the play.
On Track continues in The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday when the limited tour ends, so there's not long left to catch this play if you're interested in seeing it. Head to www.theatreroyalplymouth.com to check availability and book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.
My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.
The stage is set
RUN TIME (approx)
1 hour with no interval
After the performance we were invited to stay for a post-show talk. I decided to stay for this as I had enjoyed the performance and wanted to discover more about the creative process surrounding the piece. Unfortunately this discussion was literally a couple of minutes before the focus of the talk switched to a sort of cyclist love-in and it was essentially audience members sharing their cycling stories which honestly became mundane and boring very quickly.
I was disappointed that the talk didn't focus on the creative process of the play and also the mental health aspects touched on, especially as mental health had been mentioned in a trigger warning for the piece. I felt that this was a huge missed opportunity.
I'm sure that the cycling enthusiasts will have enjoyed this conversation but I found it very far removed from the piece I had just watched. Again I know that cycling was a theme of the play, but if the aim was to inspire people to cycle then I think it missed the mark on that if I'm honest.
The post-show talk was led by the University of Exeter and if I had realised what sort of discussion it was going to be I would not have stayed for it.
I think it's important for me to write about this as it was part of my experience, however I have written it in this separate section at the bottom as I have not allowed it to form part of my main review because it has played no part in my star rating of the actual performance.
The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.