theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2015

If Dylan Thomas had decided to scrap Under Milk Wood and write about a boozy Friday night out in a northern town instead, it might have sounded a bit like this. Playwright Jim Cartwright (Little Voice) finds the poetry in a pub crawl, the exhilarating beat and rhythm of escaping the daily grind of the 9-5 for another weekend.

In this one-man show, James Cartwright (son of Jim) is Shane, whom we meet as he's getting ready for a big one with the lads. He's a charmer and a chancer, a six-pack playboy with an aviary of 'birds' in his phone. Cartwright Jr. shines, rolling in charm and flirting with the audience as he introduces his gang and enthuses about his tanning sessions.

The play paints a picture of a town humming with life as the past jostles with the present – from inheriting drinking spots from your parents to glimpsing ex-girlfriends through pub windows. Booze-stained carpets hold memories and you can disappear into a pint glass until morning. Cartwright Sr.'s pen portrait of Shane's well-trodden steps is evocative, sad and funny. 

The production conjures the night out with spotlights, snatches of music and ringtones, and lets Cartwright Jr. do the rest. His vulnerability when suddenly confronted by his ex is aching. He shifts between moods beautifully. The problem is that ultimately, you want more from the play than just that – and more than we ultimately get. It's poignant and moving, but this picture needs more story.