Bread & Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 9th October 2018
“far more poignant and interrogative than it gives itself credit for”
It isn’t uncommon for shows to oversell themselves – bellowing about their meaning, message, and how important their work is, while actually being somewhat hollow. Strangely, Harrie Dobby’s The Gap undersells itself; its marketing brands it as a comedy, and while it certainly delivers on laughs, it’s also far more poignant and interrogative than it gives itself credit for.
The play centres on Lisa and Dave, whose paths intersect as they are backpacking around the world; they fall in love with each other, as well as the lifestyle, and find their ambitions and dreams challenged as the obligations and commitments of normal life start taking over. Dobby’s script is brimming with snappy dialogue and a blitzing pace that still gives sufficient attention to character moments. The comedy gleams especially bright when poking fun at the situations the characters find themselves in instead of relying on gags, and the whole cast does a magnificent job of wringing the humour out of every moment.
This is in no doubt also thanks to the direction – also provided by Dobby – as well as the minimalistic design by Ellena Dobby that gives the cast the space to feel unencumbered. Small visual cues help to provide context to scenes though, such as a confederacy flag draped on a chair in a scene where Lisa introduces her mother to Dave. This scene in particular brings out the more serious side of the play; the titular gap covers a number of divides that are explored, be they social, cultural, generational, or aspirational. In doing this, it elevates the comedy by underpinning it with relevant and thoughtful themes, but The Gap also knows when to let the drama take centre-stage.
Rafiq Richard and Lydia Orange deliver stellar performances as Dave and Lisa, sporting excellent chemistry and a fiery rapport. The supporting cast are also superb, with Rob Pomfret especially bringing a blistering energy to his role as Sean, that kept the audience thoroughly mesmerised. It was a shame that the supporting characters only appeared in a scene or two each, existing only to serve Lisa and Dave’s story instead of carrying journeys of their own, and it would have allowed for greater comedic and thematic opportunity if these characters too had faced obstacles to overcome.
It was pleasantly surprising to see The Gap feel unrestrained by its genre and often dance between comedy and drama seamlessly. It delivers a story that will leave you pondering and beaming in equal measure, and possesses an engaging, intellectual charm that it deserves be a little less modest about.
Reviewed by Tom Francis
Bread & Roses Theatre
Previously reviewed at this venue: