Tag Archives: Josh Barrow

Silk Road (How to buy Drugs Online) – 4 Stars


Silk Road (How to buy Drugs Online)

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 7th August 2018


“a rollercoaster of a show packed full of sharp observations and bitingly comic one-liners at every turn of its white-knuckle ride”


‘Silk Road’ was the name given to an online black market best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the ‘dark web’, users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without traffic monitoring. Shut down by the FBI in 2013, its very existence was a fascinating example of how the internet had evolved to the point of outwitting authority and became the inspiration behind Alex Oates’ exhilarating play.

Now running at Trafalgar Studios, it is easy to agree with the critical acclaim it received during its London premiere at the Vault Festival earlier this year. It is a rollercoaster of a show packed full of sharp observations and bitingly comic one-liners at every turn of its white-knuckle ride.

Bruce is nineteen, unemployed and living with his Nan. He is a struggling young Geordie who desires more from his life. His childhood sweetheart has outgrown him and, lacking any direction, he wanders through the backdoor to get a glimpse of the underworld of the title. The focus, though, is on the real-life characters he meets while he is skulking in the doorway; the writing never takes you right through to the dark side. But that is its strength – we are rooted in the real world of this unlikely hero.

Josh Barrow, as Bruce, ignites the stage from start to finish. Barrow is a ball of energy. With a chameleon physicality he brings the various characters to life: the new-age pirates sailing the web, the gangsters, the hard-shelled yet soft-centred club owners, the amdram musical theatre loving bouncers and, of course, Bruce’s omniscient Nan. Barrow knows how to tell a story and he does total justice to Oates’ razor-edged writing; full of rhythmic alliteration, weaving between rap, conversation and finely tuned impersonation; all with a mixture of tragedy, hilarity, menace and mirth.

It’s not often a description attributed to a one man show, but this is a real team effort. In fact, Oates generously credits, the actor, along with the director Dominic Shaw, for “crafting his wall of text into the living, breathing entity it has become”. These three talents do indeed combine to create a forceful piece of theatre. Running at just an hour long its cyclical nature drops you off where you started. You’re actually ready to walk away, yet simultaneously wanting more. You know that you could quite easily queue up again for another ride down ‘Silk Road’.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Nick Rutter


Silk Road (How to buy Drugs Online)

Trafalgar Studios until 1st September


Previously reviewed at this venue
Strangers in Between | ★★★★ | January 2018
Good Girl | ★★★★ | March 2018
Two for the Seesaw | ★★ | July 2018


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