The durability of male friendship is explored to persuasive effect in this modest two-hander from Manchester-based new writing company Box of Tricks.
We see laddish chatterbox Michael and nervy brainiac Paul first become friends when an episode of youthful teasing goes too far during a school trip to France. We then meet them again as they try to rekindle their friendship in their twenties on a MDMA-fuelled lads’ holiday on the Pembrokeshire coast and then, finally, they are thrown together when Paul needs a bed for the night after years of drifting apart.
These vignettes are directed pithily by Adam Quayle and strikingly performed on Katie Scott’s sparse, black box set, the sparseness offset by the illumination from Louise Anderson’s star-like lights and a convincingly real-looking moon.
Daniel Kanaber’s script is underdeveloped in places, both in terms of the characterisations of the two men and the sense of the wider world in which they operate. It’s also not overly clear what has happened to them in the intervening years, which is either kept deliberately oblique or reflects some muddiness in the storytelling.
But in the here and now, as the pair bicker, bond and bounce off one another, their relationship is a believable one. This is down, in no small part, to the performances of Kyle Rowe and Darren Kuppan as Michael and Paul, and Kanaber’s ear for dialogue. As the conversations ricochet between inane banter and poignant introspection, the male ability to say a lot without saying very much at all is keenly demonstrated.