Office

Shan Khan
Soho Theatre
(2001)

The office in the title of Shan Khan's play now at Soho Theatre after a sell-out week in Edinburgh is actually a pair of phone booths in the red light area of King's Cross.

It is from these insalubrious premises that small-time crooks, Sharky and Showtime ply their trade. They operate under the auspices of their "Godfather" Papa who remains unseen but rules with a rod of iron. This is a man who thinks nothing of killing rivals. This may even have included his predecessor Papa who was his own brother.

Showtime is a sort of Hamlet for the twenty-first century. Not only has his uncle taken over his father's kingdom, he has also moved in with his sister-in law.

This is a very fast-moving well directed production. The phone in the office just keeps ringing and visitors drop by every few minutes. Khan also ensures that we never forget that amidst this carnage "normal" people live normal lives. Abigail Morris ensures that tension is kept up with the inevitable longeurs that drug dealers must face replaced with mini slide-shows. She also guides us ably through the street lingo that the characters speak.

Shan Khan well supported by his director and Avin Shah and Mark Tonderai in the two lead roles depicts a world that is sickening and scary. The drugs family have a group of prostitute "cousins". The police are worse than the dealers and everyone could be about to betray you or stab you in the back.

This play has already won the Verity Bargate Award and maintains Soho's drive to bring younger audiences into theatres. It is selling out fast and the people are lapping it up.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher