Anyone who’s used London’s public transport will know the tube is packed with people silently staring at their shoes but the night bus plays host to noisy drunks, sleeping shift workers and assorted “items of lost property”. It’s this everyday cast that Sarah-Louise Young and Linda Marlowe explore in Night Bus. After an arresting opening montage we’re given a collection of character studies exploring the lives all around us. There’s a girl with a fantasy app controlling an itinerant teenager, a transgender office worker called Marilyn, duelling pregnant women and a mother in crisis.
I especially enjoyed the lady out to buy Earl Grey tea with a (very clean) morbidly obese brother at home. It was a touching portrait reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. Likewise the elegant lady describing her first night bus journey lulls us in with light humour before before hitting us with a horrible truth.
Music is used sparingly and with great effect to occasionally punctuate scenes. The performances and direction are strong but the real magic is in the writing. Violent, funny, poignant, touching and often with a twist. We even get a little philosophy from the bus itself.
We make assumptions about people everyday never knowing the triumphs and struggles just below the surface. Night Bus gives us a glimpse behind the masks we wear. Hop on, it’s a rewarding journey.