Monday, 20 February 2012

Snookered


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
There's lads anthems aplenty played throughout Ishy Din's, in which 
four working class northern English wide-boys reunite over a pool table 
in their local on the anniversary of the first of their gang to die, by 
his own hand or otherwise. Billy's been down south, Kamy's trying too 
hard to be one of the boys, Shaf is talking big and hustling hard, and 
Mo is on the way up. Over the course of the  night, old scores simmer 
under the surface of an overload of drink-fuelled testosterone that 
eventually spills over.

So far so in-yer-face, you might think in first time writer Din's 
savage little microcosm of back-street culture in close-up. The 
difference here is that the track-suited, smart but casual young men in 
question are British Muslims of Asian descent, and that the near-silent 
bar-man is white. The difference again is that none of this is an 
issue, but is merely incidental to the quartet's collective plight, not 
just to get on, but to get out, be it through a tequila haze, a big bag 
of money or worse.

Atmosphere is everything in Iqbal Khan's spit and sawdust production 
for Tamasha in association with Oldham Coliseum Theatre and The Bush, 
played out on Ciaran Bagnall's authentic-looking snooker hall set. The 
performances are relentless, with Din's potty-mouthed dialogue 
ricocheting  between the quartet with pummeling volleys if scrappy 
spleen. As the quartet's sparring grows increasingly intense, on one 
level this all looks deeply old-fashioned. Yet, as it exposes the more 
hidden corners of multi-cultural Britain, Snookered becomes an 
unflinching impressionistic portrait  of a community where old and new 
loyalties are as messed up as anywhere else.

The Herald, February 20th 2012

ends



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