Linda Marlowe and Sarah Louise Young present a surreal take on the blunt reality of the night bus service. A series of short sketches are performed which create caricatures and pastiches of people, yet the products of these women’s bizarre imaginations are somehow fittingly representative of the diversity of night bus travellers. The premise is exciting, but this show feels as though a lot of its potential has been left unexploited.
Its saving grace is that among its mediocre sketches there are moments of crazed and wonderful genius.
This production is about the variety of life, but variation spills beyond character types into quality of performance. Accents are occasionally excellent, but often dubious; some characters are developed with real flair, whilst others were both conceived and realised very poorly. As a piece of theatre, Night Bus verges on shambolic, the theme failing to be enough to create coherence between the sketches, or to make up for the piece’s weaker sections.
Some of the sketches were, however, inspired. A zany piece in which a troubled bus driver recounts both her utopian and dystopian imaginings of the night bus service is truly bizarre, but wonderfully hilarious. Other highlights include an argument between two pregnant women over the last seat on a bus, and an incredibly beautiful speech from a modest bus driver who seems unaware of the profundity of her own words.
These curious moments transcend what is otherwise a somewhat clumsy production. The set – comprised of six chairs, which are frequently rearranged by the two performers – feel more simplistic than minimalistic. Whilst the ease with which the chairs can be moved allows for dynamic scene changes, they are not used well enough to really evoke the setting of the bus, thereby failing to give the piece the stability it lacks.
Ultimately, Night Bus is no spectacle, but it is good fun. Its saving grace is that among its mediocre sketches there are moments of crazed and wonderful genius.