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Review: CLUTCH, Bush Theatre

Review: CLUTCH, Bush Theatre

Will Jackson writes a tender, human play that generally lacks a clear objective.

Review: CLUTCH, Bush Theatre

Tyler's trying to get his driver's licence. Six years after his first attempt, he's enlisted Max as an instructor. With a reputation as the best in Birmingham and dozens of successful candidates to prove it, he has quite a dictatorial attitude to his lessons. Locked in the cockpit, their initially scratchy exchanges grow into an earnest bond.

Will Jackson writes a tender, human play. His script is terribly funny and the characters strikingly real, but Clutch generally lacks a clear objective. His dialogue is naturally smooth, but neglects its subtext and relies on assumptions. We assume Tyler comes from a variant of a broken family, as he only ever mentions a grating relationship with his mother and desire to move out; we deduce that Max's divorce is caused by collateral issues, but he doesn't let on much during his phone conversations.

This guessing game supports the whole plot. It's an interesting approach - but a significant risk - to found the growing father-son tie, but too ambiguous. Ultimately, it establishes a superficial look at the meeting of two exceptionally different existences. Still, Jackson introduces big personalities with boundless potential. Tyler's demure, insecure nature eases as his trust in Max grows and he opens up, while the instructor's abrasive methods turn out to be rooted in pragmatism and not lack of empathy, but there are no grand statements or in-depth analysis of the mortal coil in Clutch.

Philip J Morris directs it with apparent stillness. A sequence of quick snapshots gives way to a few longer scenes that give a glimpse of the characters' life outside the driving. Charlie Kafflyn shines as Tyler and carries the show. There's an ease in the actor's stage comfort, his presence is the focus of it all and his one-sided phone calls remarkably natural.

Compared to him, Geoffrey Aymer stumbles here and there. He delivers a convincing, complex personality, but ends up sounding slightly scripted next to Kafflyn's familiarity with the text. Georgia Wilmot's set is fairly naturalistic, with two real-looking car seats and a steering wheel taking up most of the space.

Large pointed panels make up an idealised suburban background, while minimal noises (by Bella Kear) accompany the action. Running at just under one hour, the production is a lovely reminder of the good we find in people. With so much horror in the world, it's a refreshing, fundamentally feel-good play.

Clutch runs at the Bush Theatre until 8 October.

Photo Credit: Ali Wright

Regional Awards


From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

... (read more about this author)

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