Brilliantly capturing the trials of lockdown, and the effect of the covid-19 pandemic, Going The Distance, is both hilarious and poignant, striking the balance between humour and depth perfectly. Under the direction of Felicity Montagu, the script by Henry Filloux-Bennett and Yasmeen Khan is full of moments that warm the heart and make the audience laugh. The success of the piece lies in its capturing of human nature, and its relatability as it deals with the effects of the pandemic lockdown. Cultural references add to the sense of togetherness that the piece creates.
The story highlights the plight of local theatres across the UK, when under government enforced rules, they had to shut for a prolonged period. Told through the lens of the fictitious Matchborough Community Theatre, the difficulties of survival are explored, as well the importance of local theatre to individuals and the community as a whole. The characters in Going The Distance try to find a way to save their theatre from closure due to lack of finances, by organising a community production. The ups and downs of showbiz, and a few complex relationships within the team, make for comic happenings and laugh out loud moments. The characters are well developed and recognisable for anyone who has been involved in a community project.
The stand-out performance from the well-known and talented cast is Sarah Hadland as Rae, the Head of Marketing of the theatre company. With excellent comic timing, facial expressions, and commitment to character, Hadland is captivating to watch. Other cast members also provide compelling performances. Merch Husey as Kem is vulnerable and touching, and Emma McDonald as Gale takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery and growth as the story unfolds. Penny Ryder as Maggie is a relatable character, with perfect characterisation shown through mannerisms and vocal techniques, and she rounds the piece off with an affecting monologue, reminding us all of the place of theatre in our lives and communities.
Sound designer Russel Mitchell and original music composer Richard Wetherall together create an atmospheric soundtrack that enables the audience to rest in the moment of the scenes, whether comic or touching, and allow them to sink in.
Going The Distance is a must-watch for theatre lovers, and helps the audience process the effect of the pandemic, cleverly through the genre of comedy. Both funny and touching, the piece is genuine and unpretentious, with depth and authenticity.
Going The Distance is available to stream Mon 4 October 2021 – Sun 17 Oct 2021. Tickets are on sale here.