About halfway through the first half of Jitney at the Old Vic, I had set my mind on leaving at the interval. I couldn't connect with anything or see any signs of what it was building towards.
The rapid pace of the opening scene, where the drivers at Becker's (Wil Johnson) jitney office are introduced, is a series of arrivals and departures punctuated by banter. No one character is around long enough to get familiar with, and I struggled to find the depth in the jibes and jokes.
It didn't seem to be leading to anything, and it went on too long.
It wasn't until Rena (Leanne Henlon), the girlfriend of Vietnam vet Youngblood (Solomon Israel), turned up that I felt myself properly tuned in - and I decided to stay. Rena is the only female character and has two of the play's most interesting scenes.
The jitney office is under threat from redevelopment. It's in a deprived area but provides a vital service for the community as licensed cabs avoid the area.
War vets and gossip
Aside from Youngblood, for whom driving is one of three jobs he has, the other drivers are Fielding (Tony Marshall), who is an alcoholic, Doub (Geoff Aymer), a quiet, cautious Korean War vet and Turnbo (Sule Rimi) the volatile gossip.
Shealy (Nnabiko Ejimofor) swaggers in to use the office for his betting operations, and the weary Becker tries to keep everyone in line between drives.