by Ishy Din.

Bush Theatre Uxbridge Road W12 8LJ To 24 March.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm,
Audio-described: 17 March 2.30pm.
Captioned 15 March.
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.

then Nuffield Theatre University Road Southampton SO17 1TR 3-5 April 2012.
TICKETS: 023 8067 1771.

Runs: 1hr 30min.
Review: Carole Woddis 29 February.

New writing with energy.
Snookered: to be trapped, outwitted by your opponent. New writer and sometime taxi driver Ishy Din has heard it all in the back of his cab and is now turning it into noisy but pulsating drama. This, his debut play, commissioned and nurtured through Tamasha’s new writing support programme and Oldham Coliseum, shows him drawing heavily upon his real-life experience in a rip roaring slice of male life that bears comparison with Roy Williams’ early work, Sing Yer Heart out for the Lads.

Where Williams dished it out in the context of football, Din takes his metaphor from the game of snooker. And where Williams has raised consciousness mainly – though by no means solely – around Black British identity, Din, one suspects, may be about to follow suit within a northern Asian context.

Certainly he shares with Williams an ear for sharp dialogue – so sharp that for some older southern ears, the northern/Pakistani-with-a-hint-of-Caribbean-thrown-in patois seems almost another language. Maybe that’s only as it should be, for indeed the North is another country for most southerners and vice versa.

Yet there is enough within the exchanges between Din’s four pals meeting up for a heavy drinking night in a snooker parlour to remember a deceased friend that is recognisably a shared culture. That says a good deal in itself about the parallel worlds that now make up contemporary British society.

On the other hand, the sense of alienation is equally palpable. The rituals of male bonding in Iqbal Khan’s production are especially disturbing as embodied in the character of Muzz Khan’s Shaf – drug-dealer, father of five and wannabe entrepreneur, whose entrapment in his Asian culture is now leading him into some very dark places.

That I take it to be Din’s intention. To show men trapped by cultural and personal limitations particularly when, as is hinted at, sexual preferences lean towards bisexuality.

In the process, in a production that crackles with expletives and performance energy, Snookered delivers a funny-sad-tragic and subtle critique about machismo and the strains of male friendship when based on shallow chauvinism. A writer to watch.

Billy: Jaz Deol.
Shaf: Muzz Khan.
Kamy: Asif Khan.
Mo: Peter Singh.
Dave: Michael Luxton.

Director: Iqbal Khan.
Designer: Ciaran Bagnall.
Sound: Lorna Munden.
Filmed Sequences: Greek Bloke Productions.
Dialect coach: Elspeth Morrison.
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Dramaturg: Lin Coghlan.
Assistant director: Trevor MacFarlane.

The world premiere of Snookered was at Oldham Coliseum on 2 February 2012. It then toured to Lancaster, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton and Oxford. After London, it visits Southampton. First performance at the Bush Theatre London 28 February.

2012-03-04 18:02:59

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