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Green Light in the City

The Gramophones - End To End

28 April 13 words: Adrian Bhagat
The Gramophones journey from Land's End to John O'Groats and find out what 'home' means

The Gramophones - End To End

A year ago, three members of the Nottingham-based Gramophones Theatre company made a journey from Land's End to John O'Groats using any and every means of transport available to them, setting a travel budget of just £1 per mile. End To End is a play based on their experiences - not just about their unusual modes of transport but the emotions felt by all travellers who are away from home, dependent on the good will of others and spending an unusual amount of time with their fellow travellers.

The all-female group (Ria Ashcroft, Kristy Guest and Hannah Stone) were prompted to take their journey by the desire to do something adventurous at an age when they were beginning to suffer the burden of expectations of marriage and breeding. They each kept diaries of their experiences which are used to good effect in the play - they reveal the feelings of apprehension about the risks of the journey, the stresses of organisation, the thrills and disappointments, the interesting characters they meet along the way and the difficulties of a group of friends getting along with each other. The story is told, under the direction of Tilly Branson, through a variety of means - addressing the audience directly, acting out scenes, physical theatre, projection and recording. When situations are too difficult to revisit, they are told by the group simply reading from their diaries. The technical aspects worked perfectly, despite their being a number of projected videos, voice recordings and sound effects.

In advance of the journey, the group used local media to ask for help and were offered rides in limos, motorbikes, tractors, microlights, DeLoreans and numerous other modes of transport as well as accommodation along the route. Much of the rest of the journey was completed using public transport and hitch-hiking. Many of the people they met along the way are documented in the play and, in return for their kindness, the Gramophones asked them to take their own journey, offering them postcards to send back with their thoughts. Many did send the cards and these reveal the way those people were affected by their meeting with the group, and how some were inspired to take their own journeys. The company hope that their audience, too, will be similarly inspired. After these Nottingham performances, they are heading back to Cornwall to retrace their route, performing the play to the communities that helped them.

In many ways, this work is a love letter to travel and the spirit of adventure, but also it's a bitter-sweet tale about what 'home' means to us, and an uplifting story about the willingness of ordinary people to help and engage with strangers. There are many tales of people who went out of the way to help the travellers along their journey and a few scary characters too.

The play is a superb work from an up-and-coming Nottingham company, richly layered, funny and entertaining and at times very moving. If you feel your life lacks excitement, this may be the right medicine to help you rediscover your lust for life.

End To End was performed in the Neville Studio at the Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April 2013

Photos and postcards from the trip can be found on The Gramophones' website.

The Gramophones are blogging for LeftLion as they prepare for their next show. Read the blog here.


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