ON the face of it, Honest is 45 minutes of a foul-mouthed, misanthropic bloke raging semi-incoherently at his trapped pub audience about the unfairness of life. His brother lives in a huge South London mansion after marrying into money, his boss earns a packet doing a rubbish job and his life’s a mess as he’s supposedly blown about by the cruel whims of fate.
All of this is playwright DC Moore’s starting point for a subtle, biting satire on the state of the nation. Anything’s in the firing line, from corporate greed to recreational drug-taking, and the scattergun approach of the writing is as devastating as a machine gun.
It’s cleverly done, too, in a corner of the Mailcoach pub, produced by the neighbouring Royal & Derngate as a companion piece to the Royal’s current offering, My Zinc Bed.
A deft directorial hand from Mike Bartlett allows the hidden – and not so hidden – messages in Moore’s uncompromising play to come out almost by osmosis as the performance unfolds. Chatty bloke becomes unwitting social biographer as he recounts a drunken stumble across the capital one night, lashing out (metaphorically speaking) at a huge array of targets along the way.
In the hands of young actor Thomas Morrison, all the power, humour and subtlety is fabulously brought out in a towering performance. Up close and personal – he practically shares his pub table with the audience – there’s nowhere to hide, whether he’s swaggering bullishly about his contempt for his boss or emerging, childlike, as the little lost boy he really is inside.
Morrison carries us with him on his journey, utterly convincing and totally compelling, so that by the time he drains his pint of lager, grabs his coat and mobile and heads out the door, you’re fully expecting to see him again at work next day, rather the worse for wear.