As the London and Birmingham live performances of Top Gear, based on the BBC’s motoring magazine show, draw to a close I wish presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig every success with their 2nd world (domination) tour. Each and every city they visit will instantly fall in love with them, if they haven’t already done so from last year.
The London show was a commercial event, sponsored by V Power Shell and the car industry represented by the likes of Renault. Despite the present economic climate, the motor sector still attracts big money and Top Gear is a huge British export.
Three grown boys, the Stig and some highly skilled stunt drivers took to the stage to perform some exquisite moves. This was pure theatre. It was motor theatre with choreography for the masses. Cutting down the barriers of high and low art, of thespians and intellectual plots, this was an intense movement of cars, dream visions, aspirations and some serious drama.
The Top Gear stunt driver’s team moved in a restricted space in formation and to exact marks, like a dance troupe, circus or synchronised swimming core. They drove with finesse, performing tricks such as changing a black car to white via an infrared booth and ‘doughnuting’ on an extremely small circular plinth in the air
An array of stunts moved the show along with regulars such as the "Cool Wall" and the newest of the "Supercar" set, such as; the Ferrari F40, Aston V12, Bughatti Veyron and the Lamborghini Gayano, amongst others. All were enough to make even a grown man or woman quiver at their beauty.
A thrilling race made from only the pure genius that is Top Gear, had the three boys driving against each other along with the other stunt drivers, flipping the cars at any given moment around corners or bumping into each other. And on this occasion (no doubt that the result could well be different each race and show) ‘Captain Slo’ aka James May won.
It was at this point that I wondered whether the live show format really worked. May danced a little dance and made the signs ‘L’ above his head and jested aloud “looser, looser” to his fellow presenters. This was indeed very false looking and I reflected that out of the three presenters, May seemed to find it harder to be as natural as he is on the television show. He just seemed a little more out of his comfort zone than the other two.
This is where good choreography and directing comes into play, deciding what works time and time again and what ought to be kept as a one off.
This aside, I was totally in awe of the vast array of tricks they packed into their 75 minutes. It is well worth a visit, even if it means waiting until next autumn, when, no doubt the boys will be back with new, even more remarkable stunts and fun.
The Top Gear Live begins the next leg of the tour in Dublin in December.
*Art Workers Guild 125 Years by Lara Platman (published by Unicorn Press) is available to purchase at www.amazon.com