24 Hours Underground
Empty Space Theatre, Calderdale College
THIS was meander down John Betjeman Lane, despite an intriguing mish-mash of verse and prose and only the tiniest hint of Gwyneth Paltrow and her Sliding Doors.
It was a stylised journey (or trip – the first music track was, not ironically, Day Tripper), through part-lived, part-imagined lives, the whirring soundtrack of electric trains a mere distraction for disparate and surreal characters, trapped in the dilemma of “stepping off” in the right direction.
Hovering dangerously between “would” and “could”, swilled down with a persistent approximation of a “sarf-eest” accent, these characters explored the whys and wherefores of “Metro-world”, posing the question whether a contract is ever worth the paper it is written on.
Even a contract with the devil, or a devil, washed along in a litany of desperate lives, failed to pass muster, largely because it was an ailing devil, too weak to survive in our absolutely evil “real world” and certainly not nasty enough for rent-a-baddie!
A depressingly familiar scenario of unpaired and very odd socks turned into a serious joke about disparate otherness versus daily obsession.
Halifax playwright Lee D Barnes created a character who cries out: “I think I’m going mad!”
By the end of this powerful reflection on our dark society, the audience might have agreed. Flawed and fascinating, but not The Borrowers.