Ka-Tet Theatre makes its debut with “Road, ” a hyper-stylized look at extreme poverty in 1980s Britain. Props to a new ensemble for tackling challenging material, even work as flawed and uneven as this.
Charmer Scullery (an appealing Jeremy Clark) narrates a trip through his community as locals search for relief in the pubs and each other. A series of monologues illuminates the inhabitants’ tribulations with varying effectiveness: a skinhead transcends his street-fighting ways to convert to Buddhism; an elderly caricature puts on makeup for no one.
The result is success and failure: the over-long first act moves at a snail’s pace as the audience searches for someone to root for, but the second act provides moving deliverance through culture and community. The cast handles the poetry well, but dialect was consistently inconsistent. “Road” is long on language but short on insight into the economics and sociology that imprison its characters. (Lisa Buscani)
“Road” shows at Ka-Tet Theatre, Stage Left, 3408 N. Sheffield, (800)838-3006. Through August 29.