Silk Road (How To Buy Drugs Online) - A difficult offer to refuse?

★★★★★ Silk Road (How To Buy Drugs Online)

The strapline for Alex Oates’ play Silk Road, reads How To Buy Drugs Online, an intriguing and fascinating offer and one that's explored with tremendous success in this captivating exploration into the alternative world of drug dealing. This isn't the everyday world of shady dealers but what was, in effect, an illicit eBay for all you class A requisites.

For those, like me, not in the know, Silk Road, was a narcotics marketplace on the darknet where it was possible to order everything from crack cocaine to painkillers and have it delivered to your own door by your unsuspecting Postman Pat.

We ‘meet Bruce Blakemore, a struggling young Geordie tech-head and the unlikeliest international criminal mastermind you can imagine. From his base in Whitley Bay, Bruce and his Nan find themselves sucked into an Underworld Wide Web of new-age pirates, local gangsters and tea-cosies.’

Having interviewed many real online drug vendors, writer Alex Oates has created a fascinatingly brilliant piece of writing from his research into this secretive but seemingly honourable self-regulating world.

Josh Barrow

While Silk Road is basically a monologue, we nevertheless experience several fascinating characters, all brilliantly played by Josh Barrow, that make up this alternative narcotics firmament.

Dominic Shaw directs with fantastic pace and cleverly cuts between the various characters and setups with a quick, precise filmic dexterity. But it's Josh Barrow’s performance that ultimately brings together the sublime writing and excellent direction. He plays Geordie Bruce with consummate, inherently-knowledgeable ease. But it's the speed and accuracy that he momentarily morphs into his hysterical lovable, tea-cosy-knitting Nan, to Mr Shaggy, local entrepreneur, club owner, care home operator and drug dealer that doesn't cease to astound. His musical theatre, am dram-loving bouncer is a particular joy! Using that trite expression, Josh Barrow is undoubtedly one to watch, and that in my estimation is a severe underestimate – he’s outstanding!

Silk Road has had a fascinating history and development process, and is apparently the first show ever funded by the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. As impressive as that is, this is an entirely engrossing, assured and dextrous production, with joyous writing and superb acting. Whatever its provenance it's guaranteed a long, fruitful life and it will be intriguing to see it in future incarnations, and no doubt there will be many!

Alex Oates and Josh Barrow
Silk Road plays at Trafalgar Studios 2 until 1 September 2018
Check out the trailer


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