SNIFF by Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson. The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 to 11 February 2023. 4****. William Russell.

The latest in the Brockley Jack Studio’s short run series of plays is an intriguing corkscrew of a tale – nothing is quite what you think – set in the Gents of a small town pub. Alex (Felix Grainger), a smartly dressed chap, has come to relieve himself but unfortunately there is somebody else there and in the presence of strangers Alex cannot perform. The stranger is Liam ( Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson), who has come to have a quiet moment sniffing some intoxicating powder. The pub is probably the best there is in town and Alex, who has come to meet his partner, has booked a table with prosecco and flowers all ready. He has decided to finally propose they marry. He is bumptious little man who works in advertising in Canary Wharf and Liam claims that they went to school together, which may – or may not – be true. It could be Alex is the guy who escaped the dull little town and Liam is the one who did not. Another man comes in, relieves himself, and leaves. Alex is still in difficulties but is told by Liam not to use the cubicle as the toilet is blocked and very nasty indeed. The keep talking, we learn more about their problems, Alex reveals he writes advertising copy and one of his successes is for on line gambling. Liam, we discover, is an addict in more ways than one. Alex has trouble screwing his courage up to actually go and wait for his partner, they make phone calls, have a bet, squabble and Liam stops Alex from leaving, except that Alex makes no great effort to go. What happens is surprising, Liam is not quite what he seems and neither is that cubicle with the blocked toilet. Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson has come up with an intriguing look at two alpha males, one apparently on top of the world, the other on the way down, battling it out for supremacy – will Alex ever empty his bladder, will he go and propose, will something violent happen, is Liam dangerous or just a casual acquaintance in there to snort some powder mocking his new posh friend? And who was that third man? It makes for a gripping, ultimately shocking seventy minutes and director Ben Purkiss keeps his cast on their toes throughout.


Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson: Liam.

Felix Grainger: Alex.

Director: Ben Purkiss.

Music: Tambala.

Lighting: Ruth Harvey & Aimee Varani.

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