The Lowry Studio kicks off its new cutting edge theatre season with a hard-hitting, gripping, slice of Salford life by local writer Reuben Johnson. It arrives straight from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe and is another of the projects not only presented by, but also developed and supported by, this multi-faceted venue.
Toby, Dimp and Smalley, a trio of very unlikely lads – though Toby, we find out, in the midst of later mayhem, has actually scored rather well in his GCSEs - roam around the sort of Salford council estate that gets the dirty old town a bad name. The lads aren’t actually bad themselves, in fact they’re rather naive and somewhat inept when they try to pinch enough alcohol to have a booze up.
But when Toby’s dad (Jog Maher) gets out of prison, it becomes a far more serious ball game. Until now, Toby (Finney Cassidy) has lived with his sister Sam (Victoria Brittain) while his father was in prison. But dad is out early and intent on befriending his son.
However, dad is a nasty piece of work. Just how nasty is gradually revealed as Toby becomes enmeshed in a drugs scene, robbery and violence and Sam is driven frantic in her efforts to protect him.
It’s not only written by Johnson but also directed by him, very well directed too. It’s sharp and clear in both script and staging, it has plenty to say and says it succinctly. It has considerable dramatic impetus too and holds the attention throughout. All round, it’s a pretty impressive piece.
Performances are a little variable but there’s one in particular that is totally convincing, that of drug dealer Wes, an extremely nasty individual. And he’s played by none other than writer/director Johnson. And there’s more, Johnson is also co-founder of Fiddy West, the production company staging the play. Quite a talent.