A great little play with a wonderful cast, exploring the challenges and dangers of growing up with family.
This was my first time at the new Southwark Playhouse, located a stone’s throw from Elephant & Castle on the delightful Newington Causeway. Despite the main road outside, it’s a great venue – a cross between the Young Vic and a back-to-basic Shoreditch bar, a quirky environment with personality which (thankfully) feels a million miles from the overpriced, soulless drinking options within West End theatres.
After the nice wine (£3.30 a glass! I’ll definitely be back…) we were ushered into the ‘Little’ theatre – they run two plays a night here, starting 30 minutes apart. A simple set took us back to 1960s Maryland and we were introduced to the world of L’il Bit, who told us the story of learing to grow up and her relationship with her Uncle Peck in fractured flashbacks.
In a way the cast mirrored the set – five fantastic individuals did a great job of fulfilling many purposes. Apart from Olivia Poulet (L’il Bit, you’ll recognise her from The Thick of It) and William Ellis (Uncle Peck), the ‘chorus’ jumped from one character to another, and did so to great effect, drawing vivid portraits of the difficult individuals that made up L’il Bit’s family and world.
How I Learned to Drive is tale of growing up, from a range of perspectives – as each piece of the jigsaw slots into place it becomes clear how and why each ended up as damaged and in the position they did. It’s a great play, excellently executed, telling a complex tale without slipping into the realm of the obscure. Highly recommended.