In its ninth year, the Made In Bristol scheme has been nothing but an unqualified success. If not all the companies have gone on to the West End success of The Wardrobe Ensemble, the list of theatre-makers spread over both the local and national theatre ecology is proof positive that the scheme is spinning gold.
Play The Goat’s Off Peak suggests that there is a whole new host of talent to add to the scene. The fictional activist group ‘Felix’ may be out to cause total global happiness in the Bristol Parkway to Reading commuter train, but the company seem as destined to ensure they provide their audience with as rollicking a time. It’s a blast of a 55-minute piece, one that feels very ‘Bristol’ in its energy, although wisely not as obviously influenced by the creative practitioners who work with them as they usually are, and an ode to a celebration of living in the moment.
Of course, as with most first pieces of work, it could probably do with a sharp editors pen, to ‘kill the darlings’, those rehearsal room moments that become company favourites, but don’t necessarily translate to the stage. Yet there is enough imagination to override these caveats, a host of great songs, some clever tableaux that demonstrate the modern curse of our smart devices, and a wonderful piece of staging that signifies the train chugging along on its journey as a pair of wittering old ladies.
Its late lurch into thriller territory doesn’t fully coalesce but there is much to feel excited about with this 2019 company.
Off-Peak plays at Bristol Old Vic until the 6 July.