Max has done something stupid. He said he absolutely should not have done to Danny Guthrie (who, I heard enjoys drinking beer from a glass) and now he’s been summoned for his first Square Go – a coming-of-age ceremonial fight outside the school gates. As Max formulates somewhat of a game plan in the school toilets, his friend Stevie Nimmo is on hand to help him. The only problem, is that Stevie Nimmo might in fact be more incompetent than Max when it comes to the fire-breathing, stubble-growing and face-smashing Danny Guthrie.
Writing is at once intelligent but unpretentious
Square Go is a hilarious and nuanced look at youthful logic and the toxicity of hegemonic masculinity. Using the in-the-round immersion of Roundabout to his advantage, Daniel Portman’s Max has the over-confident swagger of an acne-ridden teenager – working his adoring crowds into a frenzy before he embarks on what he has no doubt will be a glorious victory. Gavin Jon Wright as Stevie makes for a good contrast – the weedy, strawberry lace-eating voice of (partial) reason, who promptly reminds Max of his imminent death. Effortlessly they bounce off one another with sharp wit, playing up to the audience and savouring their time on stage.
Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s masterful writing is at once intelligent but unpretentious, finding easy humour within a broader and more nuanced narrative. Glimpses into Danny Guthrie’s childhood and the homophobic abuse his brother received speak to broader issues of social inequalities, creating fleshed-out characters within what initially appears as farce. It seems you never know what goes on behind closed doors, not even with the people you’re closest to.
Rip-roaring, loud and brilliant; Square Go is a hilarious glimpse into the confidence of youth from the luxury of hindsight. Back for a second year, it seems this lycra-clad and award-winning production has come for its victory lap.