A collaboration between David Greig and former Noah and the Whale’s front man Charlie Fink, Cover My Tracks fuses music and storytelling in an enjoyable late night show at the Old Vic.
Cover My Tracks opens with startling similarity to the Coen Brother’s Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) opening scene. One man with a guitar sitting on a chair singing a gorgeous folk song. Instantly, we become aware that this is not just theatre we’re watching. But also a gig.
The first line of dialogue is spoken by Sarah (the other half of this double hand bill) – “I went to your funeral, but I never really presumed you were dead” – and thus the premise of the story is encapsulated: a search for the truth of Frank’s death. Sarah, played effortlessly by Jade Anouka, recounts their entire relationship.
They meet in a hotel room. Frank (played by Fink) is a melancholic musician contemplating suicide standing on the ledge of the building. With the help of Sarah’s charisma, good humour and some weed, Sarah convinces Frank to come back inside. After a hazy night of smoking, drinking and singing, they hastily decide to drive around the country – playing gigs, making love and writing tracks. The whirlwind romance ends when Frank disappears without a trace and, 12 months later, Sarah tries to follow his tracks and find him with the help of a few clues.
Cover My Tracks could be described as a poetic, spoken-word monologue interlaced (and enhanced) with gorgeous solos by Fink. These echo Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen with a modern twist, and are peppered with some dialogue between Sarah and Frank. Jade Anouka’s performance is really solid, albeit perhaps a bit predictable, and she shows real flair with great accents that bring to life secondary characters.
The script rambles at times and is not always pitch perfect. It asks big questions with heavy themes and unfortunately fell into the all-too-common trap of trying to discuss mental health and suicide with the romantisiced symbol of the tortured artist-, instead of digging a bit deeper or finding new territory. However there were some interesting moments: rock and roll in the age of tinder, and death in the age of AI, for instance.
Despite this, the story was really well suited to its captivatingly minimalist staging and the production team made great use of lovely lighting, fairy lights and haze. Overall, Cover My Tracks is an enjoyable late night show at the Old Vic and will definitely not disappoint indie folk lovers and veteran fans of Noah and the Whale’s music.