Irish travellers adrift in a fragmented world

Theatre: True Lines Bush Theatre, Shepherd's Bush
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The Independent Culture
True Lines

Bush Theatre, Shepherd's Bush

On the face of it, Bickerstaffe Theatre's new production is a road drama tracing the fortunes of four young Irish travellers adrift in a fragmented world. Emmet, a programmer, loses his bearings in Alice Springs; Siabhra, an archaeologist, puzzles over prehistoric footprints in Egypt; Aisling, a hitchhiker in America, has a strange encounter with a trucker; while Bill in Berlin watches suicides fall at his feet. But the Kilkenny-based company has bolstered the weight of its characters' emotional baggage with a strong metaphysical undercarriage: are there such things as invisible pathways, like Aboriginal songlines, that connect the dispersed Irish nation?

It is a teasing piece that covers an enormous distance, taking in snatches of Le Corbusier, Bowie and cybernetics on the way. Written by the cast and director / designer John Crowley, it has a quirky comic earthiness. Ultimately, though, the company is let down by a failure to bring the material into any real focus, and even a voguish surface cannot disguise a lack of centre.