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Published 1 March 2012

Last night I went to the pub to see Snookered. At least, that’s how it felt. I was, of course, at the Bush theatre but, if I hadn’t known any better, I may have accidentally wandered onto the stage and ordered a drink.

During his career as a taxi driver, writer Ishy Din must have overheard his fair share of personal conversations and it would seem that this experience has been recreated for the audience of Snookered. While four young Asians from the North come together on the sixth anniversary of their friend T’s death, it almost feels like you’re in the pub with them, overhearing their conversation rather than watching their performance.

In a time of economic crisis and youth unemployment, the four men reunite for this special yet morbid event after going their separate ways and leading their own equally unfulfilling lives. The strength of their friendship shines through as they greet each other; only a true friend would pick up on the fact that his lanky mate’s name rhymes with giraffe and then never let him forget it.

There’s no better way, it would seem, to mark the anniversary of a friend’s passing than by downing shots of Jack Daniels and tequila over a game of pool. A production that features a sport such as this, played by four less than talented cue-wielders, is one that will surely be different every time it is performed. The improvisation that is required adds to the authenticity of the situation. Kamy (Asif Khan) may think that his cue is worthy of the Crucible and, indeed, the way in which he prepares for every shot makes Ronnie O’Sullivan look like an amateur, but what this far from brilliant combination produces is an absolutely abysmal, albeit hilarious, game of pool.

Profanities and insults enter the conversation as frequently as the cue ball is potted and competitive and friendly banter dominates proceedings. As they mock each other’s pointless lives you can’t help but think that KFC missed a trick by failing to name its chain of restaurants Clucking Gorgeous. However, as drinks are downed even more often than the cue ball is potted, this mockery soon turns to anger.

For all its comedy, Snookered holds a great deal of emotion, and when the truth comes out about T’s death, the friends’ many deep and dark secrets are revealed more rapidly than…well, you get the gist.

As the bar closes, the friendship lies in tatters, but the strength of the entire performance remains, as Din’s characters feel so real that you can imagine bumping into them on your next visit to the pub.


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