Most of The Road To Yécora takes place in a hearse on, yes, the road to Yécora and I have to start with this vehicle, which we see as we take our seats. It is smart and simple. It might take you a second to realise that it is a hearse, but as soon as you do – well I smiled. This is a great example of a small pub theatre show using their smarts and a limited budget to create a set.
It is late at night and the weather is terrible. We hear thunder and heavy rain as Murph (JT Stocks) stands by the side of the road, desperately thumbing a ride while pulling his jacket close to keep the rain off. After a while a hearse pulls over. Juan (Sebastián Capitán Viveros) insists that Murph gets in and away they go. The sound has been noticeable so far; not just the inclement weather but the noise of the car matching the actors’ movements. Then we get what might be opening credits, soundtracked to ‘Riders On The Storm’ by The Doors, and the sync to the lyrics – well I won’t spoil it but it’s fantastic, smart work. I think it is also worth noting how excellent the light and sound work was on the first night of the run, so congrats to all involved in that.
From there, we spend some time in the car, where we realise there is more than just a body in the back. We also meet Juan’s old friend Juanito (Ricardo Dal Moro). With our three cast revealed the play becomes an enjoyable Tarentino-esque road trip buddy comedy. There are a couple of songs, but honestly I don’t really know why, or what they really add. I suppose it’s a thing that happens to kill some time on road trips, but here it feels like they might have just been put in so the show could kind of tick a box about being a musical comedy or a play with songs?
Our three characters talk and share their dreams, and Desi Ivanova’s script infuses this with dark humour and some touching moments, particularly for Juan who gets a little more depth and a little more humanity than Murph and Juanito, and Viveros plays this particularly well. All in, I left with a smile on my face. I enjoyed the cast and I enjoyed Ivanova’s script and humour and I’d happily see more writing from her in the future.
I would note that the running time is listed on Hen & Chickens’ website as 1h 15m, from 19.30 until 20.45 but the actual runtime is a lot less. With a slightly late start, I was down in the bar after around 20.15. A short running time isn’t the end of the world and the play comes to quite a natural conclusion but I was sitting there thinking that it ended nicely but surely it’s not over already? Perhaps a quick website update would be in order please.
Written and directed by: Desi Ivanova
The Road to Yecora plays at Hen and Chickens until 22 October. Further information and bookings can be found here.