On Tour

Written by Gregory Burke, Directed by Matt Wilde
Everyman Theatre, 28th October – 19th November 2005

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

On Tour is a raw, powerful drama that is full of dark humour and containing constant fuck-filled dialogue, directed by Liverpool-born Matt Wilde and written by Gregory Burke (Gagarin Way and The Straits).

It features outstanding performances by the three actors involved, notably Liverpudlian Andrew Schofield as Ray, who was being watched in the stalls by his long-time collaborator, writer Alan Bleasdale.

The first half of the production - which is a co-production with London's acclaimed Royal Court - is set in a prison cell in an unnamed country in Scandinavia, and involves verbal interplay between H (Jeff Hordley) and Daz (Paul Anderson).

They are both England football supporters, who have been arrested at the airport prior to a match for reasons not specified. Mancunian H - who is prepared to sell anything he can get hold of - drugs, designer clothes, counterfeit money - to England supporters. He is a spiv of the first degree.

Cockney Daz seems in some awe of H and his fraudulent ways. He appears to be the weaker character of the two, even though he admits to being an ex-Royal Marine. It later transpires he is on the run from the Navy to avoid being called up to fight in Iraq as a reservist.

I got slightly bored listening to the two of them rabbiting on about scams, blah, blah, while strolling around what seemed like an extraordinary large representation of a cell. The verbal jousting would probably have worked better in a more confined and intimate space.

But the situation changes dramatically following the introduction of Ray at the beginning of the play’s second act, which is set in a hotel room. Schofield injects quickfire, sharp and poignant observations, which are often spiced up with a lot of humour. This drew a great response from the Everyman audience, with lines about the way people have to double-deal and rip off people to make a quick buck and life in general. Some of his references - for instance about a guy called Echo - who repeats everything one says to him, and named after the venerable Liverpool Echo, would have been lost on audiences outside of Merseyside.

There is a totally unexpected end to the production. Like in life, things don't always appear to be what they seem.

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