Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us

Theatre Review: Jitney is a vehicle with no real sense of direction

None of the characters really break through sufficiently to hold August Wilson's production together and give it any real focus

Sule Rimi as Turnbo and Leanne Henlon as Rena in Jitney at The Old Vic

Jitney
Old Vic, London until July 9

It’s extraordinary how much drama has been found over the years in cab companies. There was the long-running American sitcom Taxi, Jack Rosenthal’s The Knowledge, and, on stage a few years ago, Ishy Din’s Approaching Empty. Now Jitney, August Wilson’s contribution, set in a Pittsburgh hire company in the 70s, is looking for fares at the Old Vic.

The title refers to the name of the car – unlicensed – that the African
residents of the Pittsburgh Hill district of the city turned to during this period when conventional cab companies kept well clear. Wil Johnson plays
Becker, the much-put-upon boss who tries to keep his motley drivers in line
and his company somehow in profit.

Alex Lowde’s set of Becker’s office consists of a few tables and chairs, and, inevitably, a single telephone forever ringing. The drivers come and go, which gives Tinuke Craig’s production a claustrophobic, testosterone-fuelled feel. The characters – sporting some fine old Starsky and Hutch hairdos – include Youngblood, well played by Solomon Israel, who is a Vietnam vet with a young family to support. If that doesn’t grab you, there’s the uneasy
relationship between Becker and his son, Booster – the role admirably taken on by understudy Blair Gyabaah on the press night – who is just out of prison. There’s also the shouty Turnbo – Sule Rimi on fine form.

The characters are interesting enough, but none of them really break through sufficiently to hold the production together and give it any real focus.

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us

See inside the Special Edition: Six years after the referendum, that list of Brexit benefits in full edition

Patricia Allison and 
Noma Dumezweni in 
A Doll’s House, Part 2. Photo: Marc Brenner

Theatre Review: A sequel 138 years in the making

This sequel to a Henrik Ibsen classic can get overcome with its sense of how clever and novel it is

A scene from the 
2012 Palme d’Or winner Amour, for which Trintignant 
won a best actor César. Photo: Canal+

And God created Trintignant

Mortality was never far away – on the screen and, tragically, in real life – for the immortal Jean-Louis, French cinema’s man for all seasons