Rocky Road at Jermyn Street Theatre
Do people change throughout their lives, and can crimes be forgiven when the culprit has changed entirely beyond recognition? These and more questions relating to identity and redemption are asked in Shaun McKenna’s new play, Rocky Road, an intensive thriller that hits all the right notes both for a tension-laden evening and some important, if often-trodden philosophical contemplation.
The plot is, essentially, a modern take on the revenge play. Zoe (Kirsten Foster) – if that is her real name – is a young woman whose life has fallen apart since she survived a knife attack. Believing that revenge may be the only real option, she stalks Danny (Tyger Drew-Honey) – if that is his real name – whom she believes to be the perpetrator. It quickly turns out, however, that he has changed, putting her beliefs into question, while she repeatedly plays out key scenes from her life since the event.
It is just a wonderfully put together piece of writing, with some powerful allusions from Plato to Singing in the Rain, and yet a prose style that is both believable and entertaining to a high degree. The dialogue is brought even more to life through powerful performances from both actors. Foster plays impeccably the part of the severely traumatised victim who has lost everything, and Drew-Honey portrays a remarkably damaged personality who struggles fundamentally with who – and what – he is.
The production quality is similarly accomplished. Director Steven Kunis’s vision suits the atmosphere perfectly; Ryan Joseph Stafford’s lighting design is quiet and powerful, evoking dark shadows, when Zoe relives her past, and more neutral, yet muddled colours when the key moments unfold. This is supported strongly by Dan Samson’s sound, which is mostly subtle and effective, using minimal effort, such as the noise of the wind, to conjure a sense of dread. The production does occasionally fall into the trap of cliché, for example, a high ringing sound when the audience is meant to be uncomfortable, but those moments are few and only seldom distract from the overall presentation.
No – there is little wrong with Rocky Road. It is a tower of strength at its better moments and always entertaining – another example of an online stream of a play done well. A fantastic experience all around.
Photo: Simon Annand
Rocky Road is live streamed from Jermyn Street Theatre on 30th April and 1st May and is available to stream from 10th until 30th May 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.