28 July 2014

Perseverance Drive at Bush Theatre was rich with ideas

I've fallen in to something of a virtuous circle with the Bush Theatre, the more that I go the more that I like it so I go more.

Perseverance Drive was a case in point. If it had been at another theatre I might well have given it a miss but the Bush Theatre experience was enough to tempt me. That and the fact that it was written by Robin Soams who had impressed me as an actor not long ago at the Arcola in Visitors.

I was working in Reading that day so I ate at the bar there beforehand. I also had a pint of Beck's Vier, which was almost the "Best Bitter" that I had asked for. Luckily I drink both.

The queueing was less frenetic than on recent previous visits and I found myself pretty much at the font of the queue without trying too hard. The two ladies who tried to queue-jump by waiting outside the toilets were less lucky and were sent to the back, not that that was a long way to go. My good organisation got me the seat that I wanted in one of the two front rows. I chose the far one from the entrance just for a change.

Perseverance Drive used the passing on of leadership in a family to address several themes. The mother had just died and the family were gathered for the funeral.

This family had its fair share of skeletons in the cupboard but no more than most families. There was the sibling rivalry between two of the sons one of whom had caused a stir through his relationship with a previously married woman. Another son was gay which was also a problem for the strongly religious family.

Religion was the other main part in the play with two of the sons active in rival evangelical churches and one of the family friends was a bishop.

Rejection was one of the main themes with some family members ostracised because of what they had done and, previously when living in England, the parents of the family had been subject to racial discrimination.

The cast (father, three sons, two wives, a bishop and his son) were all good and the two that I found the most engaging were the competitive wife and the gay son. She was a villain of the piece and he was the hero, in my view.

I tweeted at the time, "Perseverance Drive pokes awkward fingers in to families and religion to create a fine play that questions and entertains", and on reflection I still think that is a decent summary. It could have been a simple family crisis play and still entertained but it was more than that and so it engaged too.

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