Uncertainty is the keynote of Ishy Din’s first full-length play, the last of Josie Rourke’s programming here before her departure for the Donmar.
Four young British-Pakistani men meet in a pool hall in the north of England to drink a toast (or 12) to their friend T who has been dead for six years. As the booze flows and tempers fray, it becomes clear that they are unsure about their roles as adults, about their masculinity, about how to reconcile loyalty to conventional family and religion with the temptations of a Western secular society.
Billy (Jaz Deol), the cleverest of them, has come up from London having fled home, at odds with his parents. Muzz Khan’s explosive Shaf, a father several times over, is angry, trapped, a thwarted child himself. Mo (Peter Singh) assistant manager of a Comet store, is ostensibly the most settled and butcher Kamy (Asif Khan) is used to being the fall guy.
Some secrets are revealed, others hinted at, and there is a suggestion of criminality, but plot points seem unclear and tacked on – Din’s real interest is in exploring imperfect friendship. Prodigious amounts of alcohol are consumed, insulting banter amusingly exchanged and pool played, mostly inexpertly, in designer Ciaran Bagnall’s sharp bar. The men’s limited vocabulary – the number of repetitions of cunt must be a record – has an earthy power, underlining their other restrictions.
If the audience is left ultimately unsatisfied, there is no denying the energy of the writing and acting or the vigour of Iqbal Khan’s sympathetic direction. The voluble frustration of these confused young men, dangerously cornered is not easy to ignore.
Bush Theatre, London, February 28-March 24, then Nuffield Theatre, Southampton April 3-5
- Ishy Din
- Iqbal Khan
- Tamasha, Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Bush Theatre
- Jaz Deol, Asif Khan, Muzz Khan, Peter Singh, Michael Luxton
- Running time
- 1hr 35mins