Adelaide Fringe 2018 Review: Love Letters to the Public Transport System

What: Love Letters to the Public Transport System

Who: Written, directed and performed by Molly Taylor

When: 15-18, 20-25, 27-28 February and 1 March (See here for full details)

Where: Holden Street Theatres

How much: Full price $20-28, Concession $25, Group 6+ $22

Tickets available here

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Writer and performer Molly Taylor. Image via Adelaide Fringe.

When was the last time you thanked a bus, train or tram driver, and meant it? Hopefully the last time you caught a bus, train or tram, right? But many of us probably don’t think too hard about what we owe to the people who spend their days getting us from place to place.

Actor and writer Molly Taylor does. She became so overwhelmed with gratitude to public transport workers that she started writing ‘love letters’ to train and bus companies. She tried to track down specific drivers who had conveyed her to important moments in her life, to personally thank them for how they had shaped her days. She visited current and former bus drivers to hear their stories and why they do the work they do. She toured transport museums and stations. And she wrote a one-woman show about it.

Sitting alone on a single bus seat, an overflowing wastepaper basket on the floor, Taylor spins a transfixing hour of storytelling. Deftly, she weaves together her own journey from heartbreak to hope with her stories about the public transport system and with vignettes about two other characters whose lives are impacted by public transport in surprising and uplifting ways. Taylor is an impressively engaging performer, rapidly creating a sense of intimacy and connection with the audience and conveying a wide range of emotions with subtlety and honesty. Her words transform the mundane into the meaningful, without seeming forced. Letters to the Public Transport System is deceptively simple, yet satisfying, theatre.

Admittedly, this piece may resonate less in Adelaide, where the transport balance is so heavily tipped towards cars, than in London or Glasgow. Australians don’t really go in for inter-city train journeys like Europeans do, either – the distances are just so great that it takes a whole day to get somewhere you could fly to in 45 minutes. Personally, I only really use public transport as a last resort when I can’t cycle or get a lift with someone. My perpetual lateness makes me particularly unsuited to a public transport system like Adelaide’s, where missing one bus means you’ll probably be an hour late to wherever you’re going … but I digress. The sense of gratitude to the stranger who facilitated your journey – the bus driver who waited for you as you were running to the stop, the pilot who flew you to visit your family in another town or overseas, the city councillors who pushed for the bikeway to be created on my route to uni – is something we could probably all try to access more.

Matilda Handsley-Davis

4/5 stars

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