Set in the early 1980s, screenwriter James Lantz’s play attempts to address issues of family conflict and homophobia against a backdrop of small town America. While not an especially fresh subject, Lantz’s richly textured script and fragmented structure capture the spirit of the parochial South, dominated by its local church but reflecting the greater mindset of corporate America.
Robert McWhir, taking a brief sabbatical from his regular home at the Landor directs this piece with economy, nurturing a small cast to some genuinely moving performances. Central to the success of this play is the delicate and disarming chemistry between William Ross-Fawcett as Ian and Kane John Scott as Jordan, the teenagers who meet secretly in the abandoned church bus of the title.
Their love blossoms as Ian’s divorced parents – perceptively played by Katherine Jee and Matt Ian Kelly – bicker proprietorially over the fate of the abandoned bus. In the ensuing battle it is Ian Dring as the gnarled mechanic Sloat who almost steals the limelight as an unexpected role model before fate takes a turn for the worse.
Written as a response to institutionalised homophobia, this UK premiere of Lantz’s play makes some important and eloquent points but despite strong performances, its conclusion lacks dramatic power.
- Above The Stag, London
- October 22-November 22, PN October 24
- Author: James Lantz
- Director: Robert McWhir
- Design: David Shields costume/set, Elliot Griggs lighting
- Technical: Jason Kirk stage manager
- Cast: William Ross-Fawcett, Matt Ian Kelly, Ian Dring, Katherine Jee, Kane John Scott, Alexandra Vincent
- Producer: Peter Bull, Above The Stag Theatre
- Running time: 2hrs
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