Silk Road, The Vault Festival


I really wasn’t expecting much from this play. The fact the press release promoted it as “bitcoin-funded” had me worried it was going to be a buzzword-heavy, all-too-trendy play, heavy on zeitgeist and light on almost anything else. I could not have been more wrong.

This play is a one-hour, one-man tour-de-force.

The man is Bruce (Josh Barrow), an unemployed working class Geordie living with his Nan. He falls in love with a university-bound school friend who introduces him to the world of posh parties with copious cocaine. When she leaves him, he seeks out solace in the product of a local dealer, then finds he has all the makings of the next big kingpin: a laptop and a nan selling tea cosies on eBay.

The story is as gripping as the staging is sparse. Director Dominic Shaw doesn’t have a lot to work with but it really does work. The timeline jumps around, and it is through clever lighting and a physical tic from Barrow that we know we are moving from scene to scene. All depicted with just a wooden chair, a pile of books, a toaster and the electric acting of Josh Barrow. He is definitely my one to watch of 2018.

The play was sourced with suggestions from the read Silk Road forums (Silk Road is a genuine place for the trading of illicit drugs on the dark web). Writer Alex Oates has woven these into a simple, humorous, dark, compelling and eminently watchable drama.

Whatever else it was I was expecting, I was not expecting to be charmed. But I – like Bruce – was struck by a smooth criminal.

Silk Road was on at The Vaults Festival between 24-28 January and Shrapnel Theatre’s upcoming projects and information can be found here 


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