Perfectly delivered and staged, Lads is an examination of a night out between four, well, lads. Telling the tale of the Four Knights of the Round Table in the Corner of the Pub, Lads is a vigorous and energetic comedy, which at the same time is not afraid to throw an emotional punch. Lads follows these four mates on their night out in London, taking in pubs, clubs and the night bus home whilst encountering bouncers, loud girls and crazy taxi drivers. With echoes to John Godber's Bouncers, over 30 characters are played by the four actors and the piece is minimalist to the extreme, with the actors skillfully creating the world we are watching with only the aid of four chairs. However, this is not just some re-hashed version; instead, writer and director James Kermack has created a wonderful piece in its own right. It is bursting to the seams with originality and is rooted firmly in today's culture with many contemporary references provoking major laughs from the packed crowd.Kermack's dialogue is sharp and concise, full of quick retorts and pick-me-ups, and perfectly capturing the register of close male friendship. They insult each other regularly in a playful banter, yet the affection between them is clear. Indeed, Kermack's direction powerfully highlights the subtext in what they say and, perhaps more crucially, what they don't. It is witty to the extreme and all so very real; being performed inside a pub, one could actually mistake it for a real-life conversation, so truthful is the dialogue. The four characters are richly drawn and their slight diversity allows vast topics to be discussed and laughed at, whilst still remaining believable that they are friends. There is the slightly goofy, put-upon one (played by Barra Collins); the wannabe actor who still lives with his mum (Jack Badley); the quiet one who is more loved up with his girlfriend than he lets on (Frey Le Maistre); and the gruff authoritative figure who doesn't want to let on his true feelings (Anthony Thomason). Casting is crucial here and Collins excels in his portrayal. With his puppy-dog eyes, hilarious range of voices and brilliant comic timing, he had the audience eating out of his hand within minutes. He has the ability to both play the clown and tug on the audience's heartstrings, and the ease at which he slips between the two is effortless. Le Maistre has a very warm on-stage presence and provides much of the heart of the piece, whilst Thomason's no-nonsense attitude provides a lot of the humour. Badley is considerably weaker as a performer; thankfully the other three carry him as far as they can, and he just about gets it away with it.This is a play for everyone to enjoy. Males will understand and recognise every second of it; females can enjoy a unique insight into the male psyche. This is not to say that it is full of laddisms throughout; without spoiling anything, a particular moment had a profound effect on the audience, taking it quite by surprise. It is a feat that is particularly hard to achieve; but this play does it magnificently. And what's more it's free! I certainly wouldn't have objected to paying for such high quality drama and performances. Catch this bargain whilst you can; it really is one of the hottest tickets of the Fringe.