I’M WITH THE BAND
by Tim Price.
Traverse Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre Tour to 19 October 2013.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 August.
Disharmony and discord to little effect.
This Band reunites fine Welsh playwright Tim Price with fine Scottish director Hamish Pirie, after their success with Salt, Root and Roe in London during 2011. Pirie also had a resounding success at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre (where this new play started-out) with Quiz Show this spring. So, all’s set to turn out fine again.
But Price has entered the danger-zone of Allegory, where everything really means something else. He’s done it inventively, the scenes presented like tracks on a CD, with parallels clear between the split-up of rock band The Union and the tensions among the United Kingdom’s nations.
Yet such a scheme still leaves the content of each scene to be developed – only the first ‘track’ is an actual song – and it places constraints on the relationships between characters, as it does on their individual consistency and development. Allegory survives best when overmuch individuality isn’t required, and when there’s a process of recognition as events and their significance unfold with a sense of inevitability.
Things open promisingly with an argument over The Union’s rocky finances, and the Referendum track’s clear in its significance as Scottish band-member Barry angrily rebels. Price, unsurprisingly, has a view on Welsh member Gruff’s national characteristic, oozing lack of confidence, while it is, of course, Damien, English leader of the band, who rushes around trying to keep the show on the road.
But eventually this show comes off the rails in its predictability and lack of anything much to say that’s specific or which develops the basic points. Its musical patches apart, the show offers little beyond energetic arguments that hardly take the surface action anywhere, nor develop any deeper story.
What will the show look like in a year or so, if the Scottish Referendum goes against Independence? What will be the issues facing Scotland, and other countries in the UK, if it goes in favour? There’s no development of such points. Nor anything new to say about the Northern Ireland situation.
Price and Pirie have both done far better, and will again, but this won’t be one to revive from their back catalogue.
Aaron Adair: Declan Rodgers.
Barry Douglas: Andy Clark.
Damien Ross: James Hillier.
Gruff Mwyn: Matthew Bulgo.
Director: Hamish Pirie.
Designer: Neil Warmington.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound/Composer: Gordon McIntyre.
Movement: Tom Pritchard.
Fight director: Raymond Short.
Assistant director: Ronan Phelan.
28 August-7 September 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm St James Theatre London 0844 264 2140 www.stjamestheatre.co.uk
12-14 Sept 7.45pm Curve Leicester 0116 242 3595 www.curveonline.co.uk
18 Sept 7.30pm The Welfare Ystradgynlais 01639 843163.
20-21 Sept 7.45pm Theatre at the Mill Newtownabbey 028 9034 0202 www.theatreatthemill.com
23-24 Sept 7.30pm Torch Theatre Milford Haven 01646 695267 www.torchtheatre.co.uk
25-26 Sept 7.30pm The Coliseum Aberdare 08000 147111 www.coliseum.rct-arts.org
28-29 Sept 7.30pm John Phillips Hall University of Bangor 01248 382828 www.pontio.co.uk
2-3 Oct 7.30pm Theatr Brycheiniog Brecon 01874 611622 www.brycheiniog.co.uk
9-10 Oct 7.30pm ffwrnes Llanelli 0845 2263510 www.carmarthenshiretheatres.co.uk
11-12 Oct 7.30pm Gwyn Hall Neath 0300 365 6677 www.gwynhall.com
14-15 Oct 7.30pm Aberystwyth Arts Centre 01970 623232 www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk
16-19 Oct 7.45pm Wales Millennium Centre (Weston Studio) Cardiff 029 2063 6464 www.wmc.org.uk