The TEAM achieve the huge, soaring size of their ambitions
This article is from 2011.
The TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment) don’t deal in the small. Since their Fringe debut in 2005 with the Richard Nixon-fixated solo Give Up! Start Over!, their chaotic, rambunctiously-expressed subject matter has been the myth-making factory of America, the stories a country tells itself about itself. Big hopes, big dreams, big money making schemes. In Mission Drift they’re looking at the peculiar character of American capitalism, here represented by Joris and Catalina, two ferocious, fecund Dutch adolescents just off the boat in New Amsterdam, who turn themselves immortal and commence on a 400-year rampage across the soon-to-be-States profiting off the developing country’s lust for liquor and brothels. Of course, they end up in Vegas, baby.
Still with us? This sort of high-concept personification is not unusual for the company, but Mission Drift feels like a distinct step forward. Partly because Joris and Catalina’s story is wrapped around that of Joan, a cocktail waitress in present-day Vegas, who is made redundant when the stock market forces them to close their supercasinos, and because Joan is played with grounded, very human clarity by Amber Gray; partly because this is The TEAM’s first musical.
Setting the whole enterprise to bluesy, gospel-tipped song, led by showgirl and beauty queen Miss Atomic, the razzlin’, dazzlin’, manipulative spirit of Las Vegas, the company finally achieve the huge, soaring size of their ambitions. The (collectively-done) writing is crisply poetic, and each performance sharp, focused and beautiful – composer/band-leader Heather Christian, doing double duty as husky platinum blonde sex-pot Miss Atomic is a standout, because she seems to be having the most fun. At two hours, it’s still overlong and could stand to lose at least 20 minutes, but Mission Drift is such an immersive, enthusiastically-rendered spectacle that it’s impossible not to be swept away by the sheer vavavoom.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 14 Aug, times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13).