If you have ever been drawn into listening to a stranger’s life story over a pint, then DC Moore’s Honest will ring true for you.
Upstairs in The Queen’s Head, a pub just off Piccadilly, one man is doing just that. Installing himself at a pub table, tipple in front of him, he tells his audience of fellow drinkers about an incident which seems to epitomise everything that is wrong about his – and our – life.
The man, we learn, is Dave (Trystan Gravelle), a civil servant whose daily grind is grinding him down indeed. Reporting to a petty middle manager and surrounded by colleagues whose idea of fun is a “jammy f**king dodger”, the dance floor of a Wetherspoon’s pub and several rounds of Sambuca, Dave paints a depressing – and all too familiar – picture of life on the city treadmill.
One night, Dave snaps. Telling his boss exactly what he thinks of him, Dave scarpers from the pub, sick down his shirt, and goes on a trawl of South London in search of… something. He is hardly Michael Douglas in Falling Down – though there are echoes of that 1993 film in Dave’s argument with a server in McDonald’s, minus machine gun – but this very British style of breakdown is all the more realistic for it.
A state-of-the-nation style piece, Moore’s monologue is both funny and poignant, and in Gravelle’s hands extremely engaging. Swapping between Dave’s lilting Welsh accent and the voices of his boss and other characters, he holds the attention for the duration of the 40-minute piece.
Having begun life in Northampton before playing in Edinburgh, this is the first time that the play has been seen in the city in which it is set. With all the places Dave talks about just a tube journey away – and very familiar to those of us who live in South West London – the piece has an added sense of realism which is further boosted by the intimate pub setting. Dave is just a man in an honest boozer, and we are the strangers to whom he tells his story.
Tickets for Honest can be purchased from Soho theatre’s box office.