Commuter drama comes to Highgate

PART OPERA, part musical, Drive, Ride, Walk is a series of inter-cutting narratives about three commuter journeys across London.

The walkers first take the tube, then continue their journey to work on foot; a newly qualified driver takes his friends on a whirlwind tour of the congestion zone; and a near collision with a pedestrian offers one cyclist the hope of romance.

Director Sabina Netherclift says the a capella piece describes the sometimes humorous and ridiculous daily ritual of jostling to get from A to B alongside millions of others.

“The opening song is about being crushed on the tube – one man sings his way through the Northern line – it’s that familiar thing of being an individual in a crowd, squashed in with your own thoughts, on the start of a journey to work or to a job interview. It asks what goes on for people in these spaces? What do they dream about when they are not at work and where would they rather be?”

Netherclift and composer Osnat Schmool became friends when they met on the same acting job. Both later ended up temping at London Bridge, and it was their regular commute across the river that inspired the walk narrative.

“It’s somewhere between an opera and a musical,” says Netherclift.

“It’s mostly sung all the way through with little bits of dialogue but it is very dynamic in its staging with elements of physical theatre.

Most Read

“In the drive narrative a rookie driver manages to wangle the keys to his friends’ pimped up car. It’s about the camaraderie of the group of friends, about the joy of driving really fast when you have an open road, and the anger and frustration of being stuck in a jam with road rage when nothing’s moving.”

Ride concerns a cyclist who nearly collides with a stranger, then keeps seeing them throughout the day. “It’s about those brief encounters you can get in an anonymous city when you see someone you’ve never met before two or three times in the same day.”

Schmool also leads The Roundhouse Choir and has enlisted their help to swell the chorus for five performances at Jacksons Lane in Highgate.

“The singers are really excited by this very intricate music which has great lyricism,” says Netherclift.

“It’s an a capella score with influences of middle eastern and Brazilian music in the nine part choral vocal for walk. The music for drive has elements of boy band, rap and body percussion and there’s one song that borrows from Sondheim and musical theatre.”

Netherclift and Schmool’s company Filament Theatre has already performed a shortened version in 20 spaces around London including a fitness centre and St Pancras Station.

Selected scenes from the production will be performed at The Whittington Hospital on Tuesday March 8 at 12.30pm and on Thursday March 10 at 12.30pm.

“It may be London focused but the themes are very broad. Everyone has shared the experience of travelling, of being part of a crowd yet an individual within it, of feeling trapped in a cycle of commuting and wanting to break out,” adds Netherclift.

o Drive, Ride Walk is at Jacksons Lane, Highgate, from March 16 to 19.