Review: You won’t regret calling a ‘Taxi’ at Farsley’s Old Woollen

Stefanio Pinato as Lily and John Rwothomack as Taxi. Photo: Anthony Robling

By Amy Downes

Local people working in collaboration to create something special is a theme that runs through the whole performance of the latest production from Leeds-based Red Ladder Theatre Company, which is being held at The Old Woollen.

From the stunning venue and the team of directors, to the community chorus and intriguing story that they had all come together to tell.

Based at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, the ground floor of The Old Woollen has been transformed into a 500-capacity performance space where you are invited to sit right in the middle of the action as it unfolds in front of your eyes.

The theme of collaboration begins with the team of directors behind this intriguing performance and an idea that was spawned from the stories of Douglas Thorpe during his time as a taxi-driver in the city of Leeds.

John Kendall as Mal Swings into action in Taxi. Photo: Anthony Robling

He has teamed up with Red Ladder Artistic Director Rob Dixon, and writer Andrea Heaton to create a twisting tale of one driver’s journey through the streets and people of Leeds. Each familiar tale you will have either been through yourself or heard of from others. 

It’s their treatment of him that gives us an insight into their characters and the brief touch of their lives leaves an impact for much longer, much like our own cab drivers must experience every night (I will never look at a trip home in an Amber car in the same way ever again!).

The story is cleverly brought to life by talented writer Andrea Heaton, whose past credits include podcast Smile Club and Football Freddie, a team of actors lead by Sheffield actor John Rwothomack and a community chorus created from local volunteers.

Amidst this there is a longer story unwinding, homeless Mal is becoming more and more endangered and after Jo picks him up he’s left wondering if he really can commit to the taxi driver rule of staying ‘out of it’.

Taxi is based on an original idea by former Leeds taxi driver, Douglas Thorpe, co-director of the new production

The stories are told by a talented team of lead actors who take on numerous roles themselves and supported by a community chorus who bring to life the atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re constantly in a dark bustling city (sound and lighting credits).

Meanwhile, I watch with interest to see where Andrea Heaton goes next having been mesmerised by the script and completely enthralled by her Smile Club podcast which takes on a very different theme but is also cleverly created from different stories of lives that intertwine and connect.

TAXI is being performed at The Old Woollen until Sunday 20 August and some tickets do remain for this weekend, making it the perfect trip out to support local and small businesses this weekend.

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