As you walk into the small studio at the Bush you could be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turn. Designer Matthew Wright has transformed the space into a pub and we have the pleasure of waiting with the locals for ‘brainfree’ Barry to appear so they can start off on their fishing trip.
Poor sleeping landlord Bernie is rudely awakened by Lou, closely followed by the loud-mouthed Mitch. Both are wearing their khaki’s appropriately enough because what ensues is an evening of combat, of the verbal nature. We are told these two men have known each other for thirty years and they have spent those three decades arguing as they are very different men. Lou, played with the right balance of liver and sensitivity by Phil Daniels (pictured with Danny Webb), believes in people and taking responsibility for the world he lives in, while the self made Mitch, a man who in Danny Webb’s fearless portrayal is unable to speak without shouting, believes in himself, in men and in survival of the fittest.
The other companions include pub owner Bernie, dry and perfectly timed by John Ramm, and Greg (Burn Gorman) who’s a bit of an ‘Essex boy’ and a generation younger than the rest, we wonder whether he will go the way of Mitch or Lou.
This motley crew love their fishing and have been planning their weekend for ages. Barry is the only missing member and he was meant to get the fishing tackle, but there’s no sign of him. Lou’s got a bad feeling and as the tale unravels we see his instinct is right.
The only other character is Bernie’s wife Linda, played by Julie Legrand. By the nature of the part there is a danger to slip into the ‘Eastenders’ Peggy Mitchell vein and Legrand does well to avoid this, but still of all of writer Doug Lucie’s fantastically painted characters Linda seems to be the slightest.
But this does little to defer from a dynamic and compulsive piece of theatre. Lucie’s script is one witty barbed comment after another, and Simon Stoke’s naturalistic direction teamed with perfectly pitched performances mean the audience never doubt for one second they are in The Green Man with the actors. Lucie effortlessly introduces themes from the sublime to the ridiculous and you leave the theatre having had a real dose of moral/political debate without even realising it.
If you’re like me you’ll fall for this play, hook, line and sinker; Green Man means go, so go.
- Hannah Khalil