WHITE GUY ON THE BUS
by Bruce Graham.
The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 21 April 2018.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.
TICKETS 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 29 March.
A stunningly topical thriller
The problem with thrillers for a reviewer is not giving the game away, and this polished example of the genre has surprises in store in abundance which must not be given away. At the end of the first act one leaves totally taken aback by the direction things have taken. Clearly things were headed somewhere, but there? When act two starts there are fresh revelations in store straight away which change everything.
Ray (Donald Sage Mackay) is a Philadelphia investment broker, the numbers man to the rich, ruthless but amiable, married to Roz (Samantha Coughlin), an idealist who teaches mainly black children in a difficult inner city school. They seems perfect liberals, as do their friend Molly (Marina Bye), also a teacher but at a school in a safe white neighbourhood, and Christopher (Carl Stone), who is writing a thesis on how the market deals with different races.
Their conversation is pretty much what you would expect over a middle class dinner table. The pragmatic Ray keeps cooling things down because the women have very different ideas about schools and race. But we also see Ray on a bus where he chats up a young black student nurse, Shatique (Joanna McGibbon) who is going to an out of town federal prison to visit her brother serving a life sentence for murder. What Ray is doing on the bus is anybody’s guess, but he turns out to be nowhere as nice as he seems.
The play looks at the problems of a melting pot society, at how the coloured underclass can fail to rise upwards as a body although obviously some people do escape, at the way the middle class white world looks after its own. It is a thriller which thrills and makes you want to join in the arguments as well. The performances are all good, and director Jelena Budimir has set the action on a traverse stage so that the complicated links between the bus and Ray’s home and the time shifts which explain and confuse are achieved seamlessly. The thriller is a rather outmoded these days but this one is something special and breathes new life into the form.
Ray: Donald Sage Mackay.
Roz: Samantha Coughlan.
Molly: Marina Bye.
Christopher: Carl Stone.
Shatique: Joanna McGibbon.
Director: Jelena Budimir.
Set & Costume Design: Sarah Jane Booth.
Lighting Designer: Zak Macro.
Sound Designer: Joe Dines.
Dialect Coach: Jamie Matthewman.