Saturday, 26 March 2016

Theatre review: Raz

Playwright Jim Cartwright, best known for Jane Horrocks vehicle Little Voice, writes another piece designed to showcase one actor's range, in this case a male actor - specifically his son, James Cartwright. In the monologue Raz, Cartwright Jr plays Shane, de facto leader of his gang of mates, possibly because he's the one who knows where to get the drugs for their Friday nights out. Raz describes one such Friday night, starting with Shane shaking off the grey overalls of his Monday-Friday job as a forklift driver by spending his customary nine minutes on a tanning bed. Next it's getting dressed up while making sure he's already a bit drunk before leaving the house (cheaper than paying pub prices,) then meeting up with his mates and going to a series of pubs and clubs all over their unnamed town.

Shane maintains a show of strength for the most part, taking his cocktail of drugs and booze in an order he's carefully planned out to have the maximum effect, but his front is occasionally punctured when he keeps spotting an ex-girlfriend he claims to no longer have feelings for.

Cartwright Sr's verse drama is full of interesting and highly individual turns of phrase that mix the lyrical with the down-to-earth, and Anthony Banks' production keeps things simple, allowing Cartwright Jr to bring the piece alive largely on charm. Perhaps it's an inevitable downside of seeing so much theatre, though, but well-done though Raz is it doesn't feel as if it offers much new insight; and while it ultimately has a political point to make - that Shane and his friends' boozing and drug-taking is all that's left for them to do after the government have taken away every other hope - Cartwright Sr does rather awkwardly crowbar that point in.

Raz by Jim Cartwright is booking until the 16th of April at Trafalgar Studio 2; then continuing on tour to Salford, Scarborough, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Wakefield.

Running time: 55 minutes straight through.

Photo credit: Oliver Rosser

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