Keep The Change

The number of shows and scripts around drug culture Britain are appallingly lacking. For such a terrible and prominent part of society we are left with tripe such as ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ or ‘Layer Cake’ which, in their half-arsed attempts to be comic, generally miss the point. ‘Keep The Change’ is written with a genuine and much more believable insight into the gritty and grim underworld of Britain.You may have heard many shows make exaggerated claims about being the best on the Fringe, but in this case it just might well be, and if not, it will certainly be remembered as one of the great plays in Edinburgh. That statement is not without substance, either. This show gets a head start with an immaculate pedigree, originating from Paul Abbot’s studio, the notable creators of ‘The State of Play’ and ‘Shameless’. Direction, by Paul Norton Walker, is well accomplished, managing to guide actors more familiar with screen production to translate their skills to the stage without flaw (and that’s path which has tripped up more than a few telly celebs treading the boards for the first time). This professional cast reveal their experience with totally convincing performances, reaching into the hearts of everyone in the room. It’s set in Manchester, where we explore the dark reality of the drug barons’ world. Butch – the taxi driver, played by Steve Hester, is characterised as the easily influenced stooge. He is drawn into driving drug barons Greg and Smack on their deals, witnessing the myriad of crimes and becoming increasingly entwined with their affairs. Chloe is the used, abused and under appreciated wife whose intent is to have the last laugh over the bosses. The cash from the trade compels the characters, each with their own aims and priorities to escape their cruel reality. When the flimsy circle of trust between them breaks down, and with so many characters pursuing their reckless goals, it is hard for anyone come up on top.The input to the show is tremendous. Aside from a script that is a well paced and beautifully crafted, the production has cut no corners but leaves just the right amount to the imagination. Short film projections play on the white backdrop of the set, the actions on-screen being copied exactly on-stage in order to vividly set the scene. But this technique is used sparingly – ensuring that this is still a play and not a slide show. The on-stage performances are complimented by original music compositions by Johnny Clifford, who has created a rolling beat that equals atmosphere of the Sopranos soundtrack.This is an intense production, taking the entire audience for a taxi ride it will never forget. But it also has a strong Mancunian humour that creates a well balanced atmosphere between dark edgy tones and light heartedness. This is your chance to see an astounding show before it becomes infamous.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

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The Blurb

A hot new script from 'Shameless' creator Paul Abbott's writing studio. Darren Jones's debut play explores the demise of two drug dealers. Links to award-winning 'Shameless' include director Paul Walker and actor Ciaran Griffiths (Mickey Maguire).

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