Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Long Drive Together, Neptune Henriksen, Adelaide Fringe 2024 ★★★★☆

Fifteen years after their friend’s death by suicide, Dylan and Solar reunite to drive across state to visit her grave. Inspired by real events, Neptune Henriksen’s play Long Drive Together invites you into the conversation of two friends as they catch up, reminiscence, tease, and finally tackle the elephant in the room – or more accurately- car in the room.

To be alive longer than the person you’re grieving for has been dead. To keep a person alive by seeing the world for them. To preserve someone as perfect in your memory just because they aren’t around to piss you off. Henriksen’s play does a beautiful job of portraying grief as a lifelong journey. Grief is a part of Dylan and Solar’s existence, and this road-trip sees them figuring out its terms and conditions. As an audience member it’s a meaningful conversation to bear witness to. At some point grief will become a part of all our existences – so we should know what it entails.

The play can be divided into two parts: the pair not talking about their dead friend, Charlie, and the pair actively talking about Charlie.  Punctuation marks between scenes come in the form of lip sync performances to the songs of their angst-ridden adolescence. It’s a nice detail after all the most important components of a road-trip are the company and the music. In terms of the players, the natural chemistry between Henriksen and Sebial means that you never doubt for a second the shared history, love, and friendship of Dylan and Solar. The reason they work as friends is made clear too; one buoyantly lifts the other up, whilst the other is a calming presence.

Countering the naturalism of the performances is a somewhat forced quality in the writing. On several occasions I lost that comforting sense that I was the third passenger in the car listening to the banter of two lifelong friends. Instead, I felt that Henriksen was acutely aware of the presence of the audience as a third passenger and wanted to educate.

Perhaps this is where the limits of the road trip format become evident; barring discussion over views there is a complete insularity to the world of Dylan and Solar which is intensified by the lack of set dressing and the minimal use of sound. Their obstacles are psychological, and without any physical manifestation of them, the resolution must come from dialogue which does end up sounding a little forced as it tries to reach a healing conclusion.

Cathartic, evocative and profound, Long Drive Together is a warm embrace of a play that portrays the paralysing effects of grief and the power of friendship.

Recommended Drink: Bundaberg Ginger Beer – sweet and nostalgic of summers past.

Catch Long Drive Together until 10th March. Tickets can be purchased through the Adelaide Fringe Box Office.

Eilidh McKenzie

Eilidh is a writer, reader and avid watcher of film, television and theatre. She loves writing that blends comedy with darkness, and makes public the quirks of life and character that we've been taught to hide. She also aspires to be fluent in Spanish, but so far this has proved far harder than expected.

Festivals: Adelaide Fringe (2024) , Prague Fringe (2024), EdFringe (2024)
Pronouns: She/Her