Clutch at Bush Theatre
Buckle up for Will Jackson’s Clutch – a feel good one-hour ride centring on driving instructor Max (Geoffrey Aymer) and learner Tyler (Charlie Kafflynn). While the audience are confined to the intimate studio space at the Bush, the two characters are largely restricted to the front seats of a Vauxhall Corsa. The pair could not be more different: Max is middle-aged and black, and oozes an unrelenting yet endearing bravado; teenage Tyler is a white trans male, awkward and still finding his place in the world. As student and teacher initially go through the motions of learning to drive, they gradually open up to one another and form an unlikely friendship while they both endeavour to navigate their lives.
Aymer commands the laughs early on. The actor exhibits excellent comic timing and successfully conveys an array of subtle facial expressions and mannerisms that immediately invite viewers in. Later, these delicately portray what lies beneath the brash façade: a man who is experiencing extreme turbulence in his private life. Kafflyn, who makes his stage debut, is effortless. Embodying the nerves of both a learner driver and an uncertain teen, he utilises every tool in the actor’s kit – facial expressions, voice and body language – with utter aplomb. His rapport with Aymer feels organic and natural, allowing for the darker and more dramatic moments of the play to carry greater impact.
Short and snappy scenes drive the pace; however, Jackson and director Philip J Morris know when to hit the brakes and allow certain moments to play out. A great deal is packed into just one hour, with masculinity, sexuality and guilt throttling beneath character-driven comedy. Being presented with such well-rounded and believable characters, who feel instantly familiar, leaves the audience yearning for more. In so little time, they grow to care and invest in these two men – and that is no mean feat in terms of both writing and performance.
If the lights lingered on red just a little more often, it might have been enjoyable to delve deeper into these beautifully written and performed individuals. Then again, a sign of good theatre is when one still ponders over the characters as they make their exit. There is no doubt that Jackson and his cast belong in the fast lane, with Clutch signalling great things to come for them.
Photo: Ali Wright
Clutch is at Bush Theatre from 19th September until 8th October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.