Dukes Lancaster The Round
Snookered opens in a snooker hall with Shaf, played by Muzz Khan, a tall, thin cocky Asian guy in his late 20s strutting around the bar and nervously shooting balls up and down a table. He’s clearly waiting for someone and keeps on checking his mobile. Shortly after he leaves to go to the gents, Billy (Jaz Deol) walks in. When Shaf returns, he greets Billy with a stream of mock-tough invective that sets the tone for the rest of the play.
Billy has moved away from the north and now lives and works in London and is back for an annual reunion with the guys he grew up with. Drinks are ordered, pints of lager for Shaf, bottle of Bud for Billy plus shorts, JD. These boys will pack away a head throbbing amount of drink tonight.
They catch up on who is doing what, with the girls they kissed and groped and maybe more, with friends in prison or dealing in drugs. All fast, tough, boy-chat with bragging and facts liberally mixed. Shaf is hard, married with four kids and another on the way, living on the edge, skint and a taxi driver. Billy is doing OK in London and lonely. When Shaf goes off on a rant, Billy brings him back down.
They are joined by Kamy (Asif Khan) with his pool cue in an aluminium case. Kamy is shy but still one of the boys, not as bright or handy with the chat as the others, he says he is running the family halal butchers with his brother—when his father lets him. Kamy and his brother have great ideas for expansion, some day.
The story is that Kamy’s cue was stolen from Stephen Hendry’s car and given to Kamy by their mate T. T is dead and the guys are meeting up to drink, swap tales, brag, play a snooker tournament as a tribute to T on T’s birthday. More drinks, more chat, Shaf is getting more drunk and aggressive. Some snooker, frequently broken by sudden arguments and teasing of Kamy.
The final member of the posse, Mo (Peter Singh), Shaf’s sharp dressing brother in law, a deputy manager at Comet and a respected member of the family, arrives. There is immediate tension between him and Shaf, especially as he will not have a drink with the boys and asks for a coke.
The plot opens out with discussions about God, well it is a bar and four fellas drinking. Mo does eventually get a few shorts in, more than he expected. Girls, wives, impotence and potency, drug dealing, money—and lack of money, are all covered. Tempers flare, fights start and end. Love, lost dreams and all well peppered with a heavy dose of ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’ and variations on those that batter the ears with invective.
The production is played with the large audience on three sides. The set, simple, the lighting gloomy, smoky and effective, the performances in your face, the characters not entirely three dimensional. The writer Ishy Din does have a good way with words and I hope he gets beyond the ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’. As the man behind me said at the end ‘Not one of Terence Rattigan’s better plays.’
I did like the long suffering and put upon barman, Dave, played by Michael Luxton.
Get to see it if you can and make your own judgment. As the publicity says it is a hard hitting explosive drama with strong language.
Reviewer: Denis W McGeary