This performance from Onset Productions of Martin Malcolm’s play centres around a night out in Bristol sometime in the recent past. Seemingly an everyday story of young binge-drinking folk, it begins in apparently tabloid “let’s laugh at the disgusting excesses of mindless modern youth” style, as late-nighters, all of whom in various stages of extreme intoxication, gather round the prone and unconscious figure of one of their number and wonder what to do about him. One friend wants to look after him, while the other just wants to continue clubbing and leave him to his fate, whatever that might be. When they are joined by two female “slapper” acquaintances things get complicated by sex as well, and laughs become fewer as tensions are revealed between the characters and the mood becomes darker and darker, verging at times on the melodramatic. It is a tough call for any cast to keep an audience with them in this kind of relentlessly intensifying emotional mayhem, but thankfully this team are up to it. The downmarket West Country dialogue is expertly handled, the fight scenes likewise, and the playing of the flawed and damaged characters is vivid and utterly convincing throughout. Altogether a hugely impressive example of the standard of professionalism and passion that comes out of Bath Spa University these days.
**** (4 stars)
John Christopher Wood