Stand By Your Van
- Allan Radcliffe
- 8 August 2009
This article is from 2009.
An endurance test . . . for the audience
Stand By Your Van is essentially an updating of Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, which focused on participants in a dance marathon during the great depression. In this version a disparate group of characters gathers to participate in a US-style Touch the Truck competition where the last one with their hands on the Nissan’s body wins the keys and, potentially, a boost to their flagging self-esteem.
Gradually stories emerge, and characters, the majority of them two-dimensional contemporary archetypes: wannabe WAG, Bible basher, bewjewelled mockney, boorish Scotsman and gormless Welshman among them. We learn of their demons and dreams in extended soliloquies, then, one by one, they’re eliminated from the game and from the show.
The problem doesn’t lie solely with the thin characterisations. The staging, in the vast Pleasance Grand, is all wrong for what is actually a fairly intimate piece of theatre. The intention, presumably, is to draw the audience to the edge of their seats as the game progresses, but the script is simply too long-winded to generate any tangible excitement.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 7.40pm, £10.