SILK ROAD – Vaults Festival Review

SILK ROAD (How to buy drugs online)

This show by Alex Oates came to The Vaults in Waterloo. All about Silk Road the online community of which criminals and would be drug dealers come together on an internet forum on the dark web to trade goods.

Inspired by interviews with real online drug vendors, Alex Oates (BBC3, Eastenders E20, Old Vic New Voices) has written a piece about the freedoms and dangers of an unrestricted “Dark-Web” This show took to the Edinburgh Festival in 2014 and has now returned this year!

Following a callout on the real Silk Road forums for contributions to the original production’s crowdfunding campaign, an anonymous donor donated two bitcoin, which the team kept, investing their value at the time of £400 apiece into the funder themselves. Those bitcoin are now worth over $11,000 each, following the recent spike in its value and playwright Alex Oates has gone on to invest in over $40,000 worth of multiple cryptocurrencies since that introduction to the blockchain.

This story revolves around Bruce Blakemore – a young Geordie Lad trying to find his place in the world. (On that note thankfully my wife is from Newcastle and also having lived their myself am accustomed to the Geordie Accent and let me relate to the character even more, especially when it came to imagining the bar that he worked in.) *spoiler alert* It is not a instructional story on how to actually buy drugs.

This one hour monologue had me engaged and enthralled in the story of Bruce the 19 year old that lives with his Nan.We all want something more for ourselves and if many of us weren’t so tied down with bills and the day to day jobs we probably wish we had the attitude of Bruce to take the risk and make something of ourselves.

Performed by Josh Barrow he has taken the vision of Alex Oates and transforms it into this wonderful performance that engages us and has us laughing along. Performing as not only his character that is Bruce he also portrays his Loving and unknowing accomplice Nan, Club Owner and local dealer Mr Shaggy who happens to be the biggest Michael Jackson fan ever, our Theatre Performing Bouncer and lastly his Girlfriend fabulously. Each with their own distinct character.

The story takes us on the journey of Bruce, whose girlfriend moves away to university to make something of herself. Scoring some drugs in his sorrow state he then also becomes the club DJ for the club owner,local dealer and Michael Jackson fan. His renditions and use of songs weaved into conversation are a great inclusion. After being sacked he then gets revenge by creating a network of customers for himself via Silk Road, drawing his Unkowing Nan by getting her to knit tea cosies to deliver the product in. Paying for product in Bitcoin it shows people were aware of this currency years ago before its latest boom. An ingenious idea at the time and how is it delivered? That’s the best bit! Royal Mail. Postman Pat brings your smack to your door with a smile and his black and white cat is none the wiser” .Charting his rise,successes and subsequent actions when the site is shut down we get to watch a humorous show in its glory.

The venue lends itself to the action and drama in that you can hear the trains passing over, duh-dum duh-dum is the sound you hear as it passes. The lighting effects used add to the suspense, spot lighting our character in and out of focus also helped change scenes. This small theatre space named ‘The Pit’ is dark and low lit and the interaction with the audience is very welcome, asking the guy sat next to me the best way to hollow out a book, which he has indeed done.

I was in awe of Josh and couldnt have imagined anyone else acting out this play. I gave this a five star rating as i believe the writing was superb and its delivery even more. To be able to get an audience to  believe in you and just you. There was no room for error in his acting, no one else to look to or be distracted by, Josh had to and was very believable.

At the time of writing it will have finished its short run at The Vaults Festival and will then return in the hometown of Newcastle at The Live Theatre