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Snookered (Tour - Oldham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Temporarily leading a nomadic existence, while their fraying home base is rejuvenated, Oldham Coliseum has hitched up with London new writing company Tamasha for this gripping new play by Middlesbrough taxi driver Ishy Din.

Four young Asian men meet in a snooker hall for a game of pool and a few drinks. It’s the birthday of their dead friend T and exactly what it was that happened to lead to his death six years ago, and just who was involved and how, is the plot line on which the dialogue is strung.

And pretty sharp dialogue it is too. The language is very strong - there’s a warning that the piece isn’t suitable for under 16s and anyone of any age easily offended by this sort of thing should take serious note - but it sounds totally natural in context and thus entirely acceptable as Din forensically reveals the hopes and burdens of these young British Muslims.
The title of course is partly a pun, as the quartet are part of a ‘snookered’ generation, carrying the cultural expectations of past times into a much-changed world far from their origins. Religion, poverty, racism, drugs, violence, all the expected themes are touched on but without bashing them over the heads of the audience as they arise organically from Din’s impressively sharp and fine-tuned dialogue.

Only towards the end of the slightly over-long, interval-less, hour-and-three-quarters, does the focus start to blur a little as the back story is revealed with some confusion. I didn’t quite get it at this point.

Sharply directed by Iqbal Khan, the cast of five – Jaz Deol, Muzz Khan, Asif Khan, Peter Singh and Michael Luxton – play it for real and keep up the tension throughout

It’s the writer’s first main play for the stage and if he can get into gear with more of a similar standard, he should soon be motoring to success without the aid of his cab.
Tamasha is Urdu for commotion, creating a stir, and the company is certainly doing that here. Snookered tours the country until April.

- Alan Hulme

(Reviewed at the Studio Theatre, Oldham University Campus)


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