This new play, written and directed by Jonny James-Jones, is a fierce and interesting tale of brothers whose lives couldn’t be more different. Hez (Alex Brabbins) is a loser, living a stale non-life with no job, girlfriend or prospects, but plenty of beer, drugs, and a terrible influence of a housemate in wild, hilarious Ozzy (Liam Church-Burton). Brother Damon (Matt Vael) has it all - high-flying job, great house, and beautiful fiancée Pippa (Augusta Woods) who incidentally used to go out with Hez but chose the glamorous brother over the sweet but ineffectual one.
Given the amount of violence in this play, it is also refreshing to see a company working at this level absolutely perfecting fight scenes.
From this rather generic set-up comes a dark drama which sees Hez convinced to try to kill Damon, but interrupted in doing so by Damon’s brutal attack on Pippa. Hez’s heroic reaction brings Pippa crawling back and provides the turning point in the tale. The brothers are not in fact going to fight to the death, but are going to swap lives - because “THAT is how you murder someone!” Pippa and Hez leave Damon to rot in Hez’ old dive and set up house in the fancy flat, although it’s not the happy ending they were after as they continue to deal with baggage from their past as addicts together. All this drama is extremely well handled, and reaps some great rewards in scenes by turn hilarious, edge-of-your-seat tense, and deeply emotional. Performances are really strong throughout, but the stand out is Liam Church-Burton’s manic Mancunian trouble-fiend and one-liner wizard Ozzy.
Given the amount of violence in this play, it is also refreshing to see a company working at this level absolutely perfecting fight scenes. Aaron Thiara is credited as Fight Director, and he’s done a fantastic job here; from the first punch thrown they’re almost painfully believable throughout.
What lets this play down though are the frequent monologues that Hez and later Damon deliver from a filthy old arm-chair in front of the golf (both think golf is ‘shit’). While stylistically pleasing, they’re very preachy, and feel like the blunt delivery of messages we’re already taking in from the rest of the play. The essential message - boiling down to ‘success won’t make you happy and we’re all still subject to animal instincts and pretending we’re not’ isn’t even that original, so it does grate to have it doubly emphasized, and sadly detracts from the overall power of the piece.