20 November 2009 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Earlier this year the Royal Exchange transformed its main house into a bingo hall. Now they have turned their studio theatre into a pub with James Quinn playing the affable landlord. The concept seems to have caught on and has attracted a good level of attendance. The set, by Neil Gigley and Amanda Stoodley, contains all the essential elements of a pub. The walls are decorated by brass plates and fading photographs. There is a jukebox, pool table and fruit machines and the bar serves draft bitter - even if it is only Holts. The evening comprises two short plays. You Do It All Again, created and directed by Ben Fowler and Yann Seabra, makes excellent use of the pub set utilising the lights over the tables and the songs on the jukebox to create a suitable atmosphere. Tom ( Tom Hall) and Anna ( Anna McSweeney) emerge from, and sit with, the audience for a blind date. Their conversation subtlety explores the role of alcohol as a social stimulant and aphrodisiac and asks whether we only really show our true selves when intoxicated. The naturalistic performances of Hall and McSweeney are made all the more amusing by exaggerated sequences in which the actors portray the thoughts of the characters. After this fine opening we are given Rum and Vodka, a moving monologue by Conor Mcpherson. Director Ed Viney takes a more conventional approach by using the raised stage rather than placing the actor within the audience. This allows us to concentrate on a strong performance by Eoin Slattery in a powerful play. Slattery delivers a monologue that shows both his dependency on alcohol and the way it has, if not wrecked, certainly shaped his life. As he recounts the circumstances that led to a three-day lost weekend, Slattery unconsciously reveals not only how he is becoming dependent upon alcohol to function but also how it has determined the path that his life has taken. This is conveyed in a monologue that is very funny even if it also makes you squirm with embarrassment and, occasionally, because the details are familiar. Slattery performs with great insight. We are given a character who, through his criticism of the faults of others, shows the extent of his own self-loathing and seems to be always approaching the level of self-awareness needed to make a change but held back by his own flaws. You have to appreciate the irony of being given insight into the joys and perils of alcohol in a pub of all places. -Dave Cunningham Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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