Staged in-the-round, Mark Babych’s production of Jim Cartwright’s pub-set play draws you in, as if you’re idling over a pint as an argument breaks out at a nearby table.
With its blasts of pop music, kicking off with Elvis Costello’s I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down, it captures the swirl of British nightlife.
There are plenty of swirls too in the mismatched slices of carpet laid around Helen Coyston’s set – a nod, perhaps, to the different characters that Nicola Stephenson and Matthew Wilson portray over the course of the evening.
There’s a vivid sense of life and colour to Coyston’s design, with its strips of light inlaid into the bar that blaze red and blue at key moments throughout the show.
This is also true of the performances. Each of Cartwright’s characters is distinct, and Stephenson and Wilson fully inhabit all of these different, often odd, people who pop in for a drink.
In particular, as Moth and Maudie, two people bound together by a blind love, on her part, and easy access to Maudie’s money, on his, they are sweetly mournful. You sense the convenience that keeps them together. It’s a tension that flickers away throughout the production.
The pub, like any communal space, is somewhere for people to pretend their home lives have been put on hold. The strain on the lives of the Landlord and Landlady, who have to keep this facade up every day, despite their own tragedy, is beautifully captured and deeply moving.