Taxi is a brand new co-production from Leeds-based Red Ladder Theatre Company and Mad Dogs Dance Theatre which is running in Farsley in August.
It’s a frenetic journey through the streets of Leeds, seen through the eyes of Taxi, the main protagonist, played by John Rwothomack, in an exciting fusion of drama and physical theatre.
Set in the dark underbelly of Leeds, Taxi sees the streets of the city in all their visceral glory. He meets so many people but knows no-one.
Many of the character observations are based on the real-life experiences of co-director and one-time taxi driver, Douglas Thorpe.
Combining the writing skills of Andrea Heaton (Smile Club, Jack Frost, Football Freddie) with the directing expertise of Rod Dixon (Mother Courage, The Damned United, The Shed Crew) and Douglas Thorpe (Phoenix Dance Company, Mad Dogs Dance Theatre) this original fusion of theatre and dance promises to take the audience on a thrilling ride they won’t forget.
The ensemble cast (Stefania Pinato, Maya Carroll, John Kendall, John Rwothomack and Gerard Headley) take on a number of different roles within the piece and the city of Leeds is played by a community chorus, who, in turn, portray the myriad of customers that drift in and out of the intimate space of a taxi, throughout a busy shift.
Taxi is also the last production of artistic director Rod Dixon who will be leaving Red Ladder at the end of the year, following a successful and productive 17-year association with the company.
Rod Dixon, co-director of Taxi and Red Ladder artistic director, said: “I want us to blow away all expectations with Taxi.
“Audiences may already have experienced previous Red Ladder work, but I want audiences to be surprised to be given a spectacle they’ll never forget. It’s visceral and people who don’t like dance or theatre will be intrigued.
It’s a view shared by co-director and Mad Dogs Dance Theatre founder, Douglas Thorpe, whose real-life experiences are an integral part of the show. He said: “The worst thing would be to bring nothing new. We don’t want to replicate what we’ve done before.
“The arts are about creating something new, different and challenging; and in Taxi, we certainly won’t be repeating ourselves.
“All the people that I met as a taxi driver and all of the stories that I heard are being retold as part of the narrative, more directly, more overtly, but I am also interested in retelling the stories from those people that you don’t get to hear about. I saw all levels of human spirit when I was a taxi driver. Struggling people who would give their all to others, and the well-endowed showing unbelievable greed!”
Despite a steady flow of some 30 plus people a day, sharing this private and intimate space, the life of a taxi driver can often be a lonely one, as Douglas explains: “I’ve been in a couple of situations where I wanted to escape but couldn’t. A taxi driver has to be a politician, a comedian, to either dodge or diffuse a situation.
“They have to think on their feet and all the time they are confined in a tiny box on wheels. You have to deal with the situation after someone leaves your car and try not to take it home to my wife. Some taxi drivers only last a couple of years, and I can understand why, as psychologically, the job can really affect you.”
Taxi runs at The Old Woollen, Sunny Bank Mills, Town Street, Farsley, Leeds on Thursday, 19 August (Preview Tickets) £13 plus booking fee and Friday 11 August – Sunday 20 August (various times) £15 plus booking fee. Suitable for ages of 13.
For tickets, book here.