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Sideways

Published 1 June 2016

What’s it all about?

Two middle-aged lads – one a failed writer, the other a failed actor – embark on what appears to be a civilised stag week of wine tasting, but is, in fact, a blokey holiday like many others (though mostly those of the teenager/20s variety); in truth it’s about getting more plastered than an A&E full of broken legs and picking up women.

Mixed in among the intoxication that comes with more wine than an Oddbins warehouse are some real feelings – unexpected love, regret, fear of failure – while grape juice provides a handy distraction.

Who’s in it?

Daniel Weyman is the down-at-heart Miles, a man who life has crushed like a particularly squishy grape. An unpublished author with a broken marriage behind him, Weyman brings him alive with every passionate mention of wine. He’s the archetypal reluctant friend.

Simon Harrison plays a thoroughly dislikeable Jack; the very epitome of a man-child. With a wedding coming up he reacts by trying to ‘get his nut’, regardless of the consequences. He’s less cheeky chappy, more arrogant arse.

As the women they encounter, Ellie Piercy finds all the heartbreak, longing and love in waitress and wine aficionado Maya, with Beth Cordingly a fabulous, fierce and fiery Terra.

What should I look out for?

Laura Hopkins’ Rubik’s Magic inspired-set design, which is folded and unfolded to reveal bedrooms, tasting rooms and bars across Californian wine country.

The rock bottom tasting room moment that’ll make you squirm with hilarious awkwardness of the American Pie or The Inbetweeners kind.

The descriptions of wine playwright Rex Pickett puts in the mouths of his characters; they’d give Olly Smith a run for his money.

In a nutshell?

Wine, women and wasters; Sideways’ tale of lads on tour is a sometimes coarse, sometimes cringey (Mer)lot of fun.

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Will I like it?

If you were to metaphorically swirl Sideways like a glass of Pinot, give it a go on the nose and swill it around your mouth, you’d find a brash, fruity little number, with big, blokey overtones and the merest hint of sweetness. It’s a fun quaffer of a show that’ll make you smile, with the chance that its occasional roughness might hit the back your throat and cause a cough of disbelief or two. If that’s your type of tipple, it’s time to uncork Sideways and take a taste.

Sideways plays at the St James Theatre until 9 July. You can book tickets through the show’s website.

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