As someone who commutes every day, I become aware of the diverse range of people who use London Underground. With every opening and closing of the tube doors, the ethnic, socio-economic and dramatic mix of my fellow travellers can change in an instant.
As such, the Tube is the perfect setting for The End of the Line, a series of short playlets from young writing collective Knocked for Six which has just finished a three night run.
Piled into The Workshop, a club space in the basement of the Roadtrip Bar in Old Street, we were arranged on benches either side of a thin promenade space. Any fears that the arrangement meant there was not enough space for the actors were appeased when it became clear that the front benches were also the stage, with the central seats being occupied by a succession of interesting characters.
Beginning with Rumi Begum’s Inconvenient Relations, a fun piece in which three girlfriends discover that they have all been sleeping with the same guy, the initial feeling is that this is to be an evening of comedy. The feeling is reinforced by Triska Hamid’s Tube’s a Bit Racist, which finds metaphorical meanings for the colour scheme of the London Underground map.
And, for the most part, the comedy sketches work best. Begum dominates here, with a series of well-observed vignettes. One or two, especially On Your Feet, could perhaps do with stronger punchlines, but each generates laughter in the right places.
And it is the points at which The End of the Line veers into other territories where the production fares less well. Fenar Mohammed-Ali’s emotive Going Under, the only piece set on a railway platform rather than in a carriage, struggles in a space that works against it. And Zainab Hasan’s Identity, which imagines a near-future where transport police enforce compulsory ID schemes, does not sit well in an evening dedicated to glimpses of present day life.
For me, the highlight of the evening was That Boy by Sabrina Mahfouz. A boy-meets-girl comedy which contains a tale of unremitting violence and the differing reactions to such a story, it not only has a nice line in naturalistic dialogue, but superb performances from Rhoda Ofori-Attah and David Ajao.
Despite its title, End of the Line is clearly just the beginning for this team of young writers. I look forward to whatever destination they take us towards.