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Pawn (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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New Century House, Manchester

Written by a former police sergeant, Brian Marchbank, the play takes a darkly comic look at a hostage situation with plenty of laugh-out-loud lines and a good amount of drama too. It’s a pretty original mix.

We’re in a seedy pawn shop, where heavily pregnant Mel (Fiona Carmouch) and ex-army and now alcoholic Sam (Matthew Stead) are trying to persuade shop owner’s mousy daughter Emma (Annamarie Bayley) to part with some cash in exchange for their dodgy offerings.

Suddenly, in burst ski-masked Bernie (aka Bonnie) played by Christine Clare and Hugh Draycott as Simon (aka Clyde). Brandishing pistols and demanding money with menaces, unfortunately the pair have nothing in the way of items to pawn.

Unfortunately the masked twosome set off the shop alarm and the security shutters are triggered, trapping the motley band inside for a bout of soul searching. The plot takes several bizarre twists after the three girls discover they know – and dislike – each other from their schooldays.

Dennis Keighron-Foster directs with some pace and, apart from a little too much overly-loud, actorly shouting, the cast do the script justice. The exception is John McElhatton, as the Detective Sergeant assigned to bring the incident to a speedy conclusion, who unfortunately gets most of the poorer lines and doesn't manage to overcome the handicap.

The last couple of minutes of the plot don’t work for me and the piece feels ten minutes too long, but don’t let that put you off, it’s an original piece that’s definitely worth seeing.

- Alan Hulme


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