REVIEW: Silk Road (How to Buy Drugs Online), Trafalgar Studios

This one man show is filled with angst and urgency but could be expanded further for a more in depth look at the situation the character finds himself in. 

Silk Road (How to buy Drugs Online). Josh Barrow (Bruce Blakemore). Credit - Nick Rutter
(c) Nick Rutter.

From watching Dominic Shaw’s urgent and ultimately gripping production, it is clear there are two very different sides to Silk Road (How to Buy Drugs Online). On the one side you have a Bruce who cares deeply for his nan and would do anything for her, while on the other side of this the audience sees a Bruce who is desperately lonely and isolated from the rest of the world and uses the skills he has (and tea cosies) to earn money through murky methods.

Set in a town up North, Alex Oates’s play follows Bruce as he spirals out of control and discovers Silk Road, an online black market way of selling drugs after his summer crush leaves him for university and through a series of events sets up his own ‘business’, leading him and his gran into danger.

But while this is a one man show, there are several other characters along the way that Josh Barrow excellently portrays from Bruce’s affectionate nan to the vulgar and loud Mr Shaggy. Barrow shows a great ability to switch characters with ease and speed, changing his posture and voice to great effect, allowing the audience to see how fully he has committed to each personality. But Barrow is also perfectly characterises Bruce’s isolation from the rest of the world using the audience perfectly to draw them into his world instead. His performance is lively and energetic, that it can be exhausting for the audience to watch – but also somehow makes the character relatable, particularly during the final moments of the show which are surprisingly poignant.

Director Dominic Shaw has created a frantic production that fully makes the most of the lyrical style of Alex Oates’s writing but can at times make it a bit difficult for the audience to keep up with and take everything in. However, the simplicity of the production in terms of the way in which it is presented means that the audience never loses focus from the story that is being told.

It is a vivid and intriguing concept for a show, but feels as though perhaps it could be developed further, as it currently only offers the audience  a brief glimpse into the concept of Silk Road (currently the show is only roughly 55 minutes long) that doesn’t quite leave the audience feeling suitably satisfied. However, it is certainly worth seeing for Josh Barrow’s engaging and lively performance alone.

By Emma Clarendon 

Silk Road (How to Buy Drugs Online) will play at the trafalgar studios funtil the 1st September . To book tickets visit ATG Tickets

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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