The Backseat of My Car (and other safe spaces)
South Street Arts Centre
Greg Wohead’s short theatrical piece takes you on a journey, narratively and imaginatively, as you step inside his car and allow yourself to be directed as a central character in his remembered moment.
You travel together through this memory, catching a glimpse of exciting, awkward and nervous first love, forests and beautiful vistas, creating a secret, intimate, nothing and yet everything moment together.
This is a short one-on-one theatrical experience in the front seat of a parked car, you play the role of the girl in his remembered teenage romance; mostly you are listening, but sometimes you are given lines or instructions to follow, to participate in the piece.
You have to comply in order for the piece to flow. When your character speaks, you speak and, when instructed, you gaze off into the distance and imagine a different time and place. He asks you to imagine that you are driving through a beautiful landscape to the lake, a romantic look out point, where first love reaches its nervous hand out and hopes that someone will grasp it.
It is hard to visualise this scene when you are actually looking at a brick wall on a rainy day in Reading, but the simple, conversation-like narrative of the piece allows you, in the quiet moments, to find your own memory in which to immerse yourself.
What is central to this performance is the relationship the performer creates with his single audience member. It must be carefully crafted in order not to unnerve them and break the intimacy of the moment and he does this really well. He is reassuring and the tone of his performance is warm and well-paced.
The only barrier to being fully lost in Greg Wohead’s reminiscence is the requirement to listen out for your cue and lines. We are given two conflicting instructions; we are asked to engage our imagination and place ourselves somewhere else, but to also remain fully focused enough to follow the instructions. This left me too present to completely immerse myself in the experience.
Overall, it’s a well-constructed theatrical moment, performed adeptly and rich with imagery and charm.
Reviewer: Liz Allum