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Jim Cartwright teams up with his son James for an epic tribute to nights on the lash
‘Road’ and ‘…Little Voice’ playwright Jim Cartwright is pushing 60 these days, but it’s to his credit that you wouldn’t guess that from this cocksure poetic monologue about a young man living for the weekend.
During the week, Shane (James Cartwright, the playwright’s son, and presumably source of some of the intel here), is a nobody in a dead-end job, living with his parents. But come Friday night, he’s a legend, the golden boy who sorts his pals out with their class As, who meticulously plots the night’s trajectory: what pubs his gang visit, what girls they talk to, when they drop their drugs.
I think there’s a reasonable chance that many of us would think Shane’s a bit of a dickhead. But that doesn’t mean we can’t admire the military precision with which he plots a night out – not just the precision; the passion. ‘RAZ’ treats a night on the tiles like a Homeric epic, with Shane its Achilles. And it’s couched in beautifully droll, John Cooper Clarke-esque verse: funny and articulate, but also somehow authentic in revealing the inner workings of this Lancastrian’s soul.
Anthony Banks’s production is energetic and enjoyable – and probably would be with a ew start-of-night beers – and Cartwright Jnr gives a genuinely excellent performance that’s hard to resist, first via the sheer poetry of his cockiness, later as cracks in his armour start to show.
But ultimately it feels like a rather minor work from a playwright who’s written some major stuff. Surely something has gone wrong that this is Shane’s life, and that he’s unable or unwilling to escape from his parents, that his day to day existence is a write off. Cartwright limits himself solely to the highs and lows of one night out, and it’s fair that he doesn’t want to kill our buzz, but it feel like ‘RAZ’ ducks some big questions in the interests of a good time.