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Kicked to the curb
IPFW’s production of Road takes audiences on a bawdy, wrenching trip
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
In a small town in Lancashire, England, the factories have packed up and gone, and with them went the jobs — and futures — of the town’s people. Stores are closing, the area is falling apart, and what used to be a robust working class community is quickly succumbing to poverty, alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity. The residents scrape by — barely — on meager government assistance and whatever brief buzz they can grab for themselves, and watch their lives slide out of view…
That’s the bleak setting of Road, Jim Cartwright’s award-winning 1986 drama about northern England during the Thatcher years. IPFW’s production begins its run on Friday, February 19.
Each season, IPFW’s Department of Theater typically alternates familiar fare with edgier, more challenging work. No prizes for guessing which category Road falls into — the play features raw subject matter, bawdy humor, and very adult language (IPFW’s production is strictly for mature audiences only). It’s also very insightful, honest, and even poignant, celebrating human resiliency in the face of despair.
Road has been compared to Thornton Wilder’s classic Our Town, and the comparison is apt. Like Our Town, Road offers us an intimate, immersive look into a distinctive place, and the lives, hopes, and dreams of its people. There’s a narrator who serves as a guide, breaking the “fourth wall” and addressing the audience. But as actress Laura Laudeman (who plays Dor) points out in her production notes, the characters you’ll meet in Road are in far more desperate circumstances. “Whereas the townspeople in Our Town can boast the manners and social conventions of middle class, turn-of-the century New England,” Laudeman writes, “the occupants of Road have abandoned all notions of decorum. Behavior that may appear crude or uncouth — profanity, drunkenness, drug use, sexual promiscuity — is a coping mechanism for our… ensemble of characters.”
Alcohol and other vices aren’t the only means of coping in Road. Some of the characters escape an ugly present by reflecting on a happier, more hopeful past, while others haven’t given up on the futures quite yet. Laudeman writes: “For the younger generation, a sentence to a lifetime of poverty and despondency is not yet a foregone conclusion. Despite the fact that many of Road’s inhabitants seem to have resigned themselves to their fate, others confess their secret dreams for a better life—somehow, someway, they might escape.”
IPFW Department of Theater presents Road
February 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 8:00 p.m.
February 21 at 2:00 p.m.
IPFW Studio Theatre in Kettler Hall
2101 East Coliseum Boulevard
TICKETS: $5 IPFW Students/ High School Students/Children Under 18; $16 Adults; $14 Seniors/Faculty/Staff/Alumni; $12 Groups of 10 or More; $12 Other College students with ID. Children under 6 will not be admitted.
FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
The IPFW Larson Ticket Office in the Athletic Center is open Monday – Friday from 12:30 – 6:30 PM. Patrons are encouraged to call in advance to reserve their tickets.
Purchase Tickets Online: ipfw.edu/tickets
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