Dare Devil Rides to Jarama (4 Stars)

Townsend Productions, in association with IBMT Harrogate Theatre, The Place Bedford and Unite the Union, present

Dare Devil Rides To Jarama by Neil Gore

at the Bussey Building, Peckham Rye, 26th October 2016

UK Tour: 24th September – 3rd December 2016
Further details at end of this Review

About the show:
Marking the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama is a world premiere based on the experiences of The International Brigades during The Spanish Civil War. Looking at the powerful political and economic forces that engulfed 1930s Europe, Dare Devil Rides to Jarama follows why so many ordinary people made the extraordinary choice to leave family and livelihoods and fight in a brutal war so far from home.

When Spaniards rose up to resist General Franco’s military rebellion in 1936, it was an inspiration to millions of people worldwide. Their heroic struggle alerted the rest of the world to the threat of fascism. Dare Devil Rides To Jarama commemorates and celebrates the contribution and sacrifice of the Volunteer International Brigades, including two and a half thousand from Britain and Ireland.

Compelling and humorous, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama focuses on the contrasting lives of Clem Beckett, a Lancashire blacksmith and famous star of the speedway track, and Christopher Caudwell, a renowned writer, poet and philosopher. Both men were killed together at Jarama in February 1937, having become friends as members of the British Battalion’s machine-gun company”.

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars ****

The Bussey Building is an old concrete lentil style multi level multi function community building. With pop-up events happening all the time this is a venue to keep an eye on. Surprisingly, less than an hour to get there from the other side of London!

The Front of House is opened by none other than Neil Gore. An affable chap who did the research, wrote the play, sings the songs, plays musical instruments and performs in the play. If that wasn’t daunting enough, he also runs the lighting from a concealed laptop via discrete taps on the space bar.

The doorman is the wonderfully talented David Heywood. He checks your ticket, welcomes you to the venue, hands out clacker rattles, sings, performs, plays instruments and occasionally advances the lighting cues.

This feels like a modern day version of the travelling gypsy caravan that pulls into town and entertains the villagers. It’s clearly designed to be toured by the cast and incorporates effective minimalistic lighting. The Set is of wooden construct. It moves and transforms into a stage, a back drop, some stairs and is really quite clever! After the interval the Set and Lighting has changed as we move location to Spain.

The show starts with Neil welcoming us, then running off through the side door to flick a switch for the house lights to go out. Similarly at the interval, he asks us to remain seated while he goes to turn on the house lights. It all feels so natural, there is no “us and them” there’s only “us”, it’s unassuming, and helps create a familiar atmosphere where we all feel welcome. With this show, the clacker rattles, which would normally be an interruption are actively encouraged, there was never a 4th wall to break. The 1st half has a lot of comedy and lighter moments. The 2nd half takes itself more seriously. Both are enjoyable!

The script is extremely well constructed. Seamless progressions from character acting, to prose, to narrative. There are sections of beautiful rhythm. The songs are naturally executed, sometimes with instruments from both David and Neil, and sometimes a capella, but always in perfect pitch with continuous acting through the songs. Superb performers of their craft!

I’m not sure the images provide the show the credit it deserves. There’s something rather dull about the black and white images, authentic though they may be. This is a shame considering the vitality and talent involved.

untitled-copy high-res clem-beckett-1929-a

clem-beckett-1929-b

After the show, several of the audience hold back to chat to the cast. You just know you’ll be welcomed if you do so. And we all were!

The subject matter is interesting – we’ve got the Spanish Civil War, Mosley, Mussolini, Hitler. The British government determining “non-intervention” should be the British reaction. Many British boys independently decided to travel overseas to fight for what they felt was right. Many lost their lives. The story might have been set in 1936 but it feels so relevant today with Syria and Trump and current affairs which our Government blinker from foreign policy.

Dare Devil Rides to Jarama is a true theatre experience. It will educate and welcome you, and you’ll appreciate the talent from both Neil Gore and David Heywood. A great night out! This show is touring so if you don’t catch it in London take a look at the tour and catch it elsewhere with friends and family!

Running time 2 hours (including an interval)
Notes Ages 11+
Box Office Tickets are available from individual theatre box office
See http://www.townsendproductions.org.uk/feedback/test.
Twitter @townsendprod, #DareDevil
Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SqGCLotudo

Tour Dates:

30 The Marx Memorial Library London [extracts & songs (Box office:02072531485; www.marxmemoriallibrary.org.uk)

NOVEMBER

1 Hertford Theatre (Box office: 01992 531500; www.hertfordtheatre.com)

2 Wedgwood Rooms, Southsea (Box office: Wedgewood Rooms 02392863911 Kings Theatre 02392828282)

3 The Plough Arts Centre, Gt Torrington (Box office: 01805624624 www.theploughartscentre.org.uk)

4 Dorchester Arts Centre (Box office: 01305 266926; www.dorchesterarts.org.uk)

5 Bridport Arts Centre (Box office: www.bridport-arts.com; 01308 424204

7 Theatre Royal Margate (boxoffice@margatewintergarden.co.uk 01843 292795)

10 The Civic, Barnsley  (Box office: 01226 327000; enquirie@barnsleycivic.co.uk

11 Witham Hall, Barnard Castle (Box-office: 01833 631107)

12 Cast Doncaster (Box office: 01302 303 959; castindoncaster.com)

13 Severn Theatre Shrewsbury (Box office: 01743 281281; www.theatresevern.co.uk)

14 -19 Lantern Theatre Sheffield (Box office: 0114 255 1776; www.lanterntheatre.org.uk

22 -23 St Michaels Irish Centre, Liverpool (Box office: Box Office: 0151 263 1808 / www.stmichaelsirishcentre.org )

25  Barton, Assembly Rooms DN18 5QP (Box office: 01652637568/ info@champltd.org )

26  Swanland Village Hall (Box office: 01482 634863/ E mail yd@swanlandvillagehall.info)

29 Lighthouse Poole (Box office: 0844 406 8666; www.lighthouse poole.co.uk) (MOVED TO THE SPRING TOUR)

30 The Place Bedford (Box office: www.theplacebedford.org.uk; 01234718112)

DECEMBER

1 Square Chapel Halifax (Box office: 01422349422; www.squarechapel.co.uk

2 The Hat Factory Luton (Box office: 01582 878100; http://www.lutonculture.com/hat-factory)

3 Ruskin College Oxford (Box office: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/publish?crumb=b9a30d1c8017a7&eid=28507993175)

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