Ordinary Lads

Paul Ferguson
Back2Back Productions
Etcetera Theatre
(2010)

Publicity photo

In an ordinary flat, on an ordinary day, four lads find themselves caught up in an ordinary scenario. Bones (Marc Pickering), the dope smoking waster, watches TV all day and enters facile competitions, Fergie (Nik Drake) hangs about in his dressing gown and boxers whilst doing mindless crosswords, and Dibbs (Simon Naylor) in shell suit, baseball cap and trainers comes round to score. Enter Sparky (David Cullinane) with a seemingly ordinary problem.

Having punched a man in a nightclub the previous evening, got dumped by his girlfriend and ended up wrapping her car round a tree whilst drink driving, his evening could not have got any worse. It did. I won't give away the ensuing problems, but suffice it to say that this is finally no ordinary day, and, having returned to his mates for some solace, Sparky finds things going from bad to worse, as his hapless friends try to intervene with solutions.

If this production were auditioning for an episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps it would get the part. If this is your sort of viewing preference you will love this production, and the young audience on the night of attendance certainly did. Ferguson's writing is handled deftly; the energy and rebuffs, whilst not exceptional, follow sharply. If this really is a portrayal of 'Ordinary Lads' then their luckless encounters with the world hardly fill us with much hope for the world.

Yes, it's a comedy, but its message is far from exceptional (or even extraordinary?). However this is young writing and young directing and they are supported by a good cast, whose roles are seemingly not too far from home. While Sparky and Fergie are rather unsympathetic and frustrating characters, Pickering creates likeable charm in Bones and finally Nico Lennon stands out impressively playing the three separate characters of Jukebox, Tony Turk and the Delivery Man.

With the traditional list of drugs, gambling, drink, relationships problems and sex this is not a plot to engage the mind, but director Jake Hendriks certainly handles the pace well, and keeps the inevitable storyline moving forward. While the set and costumes are functional, nice touches such as the music and the lads rough-housing like kids will easily please. However, ultimately Ordinary Lads asks nothing more of you than a light laugh at four feckless males, and fails to be supported by an astute purpose. With a little more experience under their belts and a question that really cuts them, this writer/director team could be one to watch.

Reviewer: Sacha Voit