the warning on the posters I should have known what to expect. This
modern comedy of macho posturing and bluff aggression is full of
first play grabs your attention with witty one-liners and childish
teasing. Then hits you with angry shouting and swearing.
tension fuelled by testosterone rising and falling like a high stake
game of cards. A modern play about six men in a seedy restaurant,
the highlight of their drab lives being the Sunday night poker game.
be accepted as a man you have to play the game. Their minds may
dream of spending their winnings but their hearts know they can't
quit until all is lost.
their protests the thrill of winning or losing everything on the
toss of a coin or the turn of a card has them hooked.
set in the first half is split between the kitchen and the restaurant,
the action alternately freezing between them. This slightly stilts
the generally hectic pace. Add to that the flimsy set with doors
not closing properly and walls wobbling and you never forget that
you're watching a play.
comedy centres on the character of "Mugsy" played with a touching
optimism by Sam Thomas. Edmund Naylor as the cynical "Stephen" does
a great impression of Marber. Not an easy character to play, disciplined
and under control.
Sampson is the stressed "Sweeney", a brilliant portrayal of the
struggle to walk away to a normal life. A topical choice the evils
of gambling, a mug's game where everyone owes money to someone else
and no one stays a winner for long. Except of course for the house.
Make that the Houses of Parliament.