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