by Michael Sloan
26th - 31st October, 2009
The journey begins
An armed thief
The plot is revealed
The culprit held to account
A tense and claustrophobic thriller emerges when twelve people become trapped in a London Underground train carriage. The fear of being trapped underground with very little air and apparently no rescue service underway becomes very real as we witness the initial panic and fear experienced by the passengers. As the temperature rises and tempers fray, an electrical shortage on the train shrouds a brutal murder and when the lights eventually come up we are faced with a new and more chilling revelation - there is a murderer aboard and nowhere to run.
My last involvement with Bingley Little Theatre was in Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchardwhen I was seventeen, and you can find incriminating evidence of me on the walls of the Arts centre foyer wearing a terrible dress and Bo-peep style dress. My only memories of the play are flitting around the stage chatting about a bumblebee broach, and uttering the line "in Paris I went up in an air balloon"!
I've since learned the benefits of staying behind the scenes and have been working in Film and TV for a number of years. Directing theatre is a whole different ball game, so it's lovely to be asked to direct one of the plays this season, and to be back at Bingley amongst some familiar faces and many new.ones.
I previously knew nothing of the play Underground, only that it was first performed in 1983 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, and starred Raymond Burr as Jim MacLain. I'm told that Raymond, who was then at the height of his career, remained hidden until he spoke his first line, revealing himself to the audience from behind a newspaper, to huge applause.
Underground doesn't seem to have been performed professionally many times over the years. However, the idea of 'a tense and claustrophobic thriller' set on a tube train certainly appealed to me - I love the history, iconic imagery and sounds of the London Underground, although travelling on the tube always seems to be a fairly miserable experience! When reading the script for the first time I was reminded of being trapped on an underground train a few years ago on the way to a march in central London. The carriage was hot, sweaty and airless, and very quickly there became a real sense of panic at being stuck so far underground with no way out. As with all thrillers there are some interesting twists, turns and revelations in 'Underground; and the play is a real challenge for our 12 actors who are on stage almost all of the time! I hope you enjoy it.