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Alcohol is the playwright's friend: it's the ultimate dramatic catalyst. And boy, do they catalyse themselves in Ishy Din's debut play. It's a miracle the four young British Asian men gathered in a pool hall to mark the anniversary of a friend's death can stand, let alone shoot straight. 'Snookered'? Snockered, more like.
There's resentment from the off. Shaf and group dufus Kammy are stuck in rudderless jobs in Middlesborough. Old schoolmate Billy's back from London and Mo's just about to join him. Banter jostles into bitterness and, sure enough, old truths emerge.
Aspiration and materialism collide with heritage and custom, and the four have opposing views on subsuming themselves into wider British culture. There's a running competition over commitment to Islam, despite the level-peggings of Hajj and happy hour.
Din, a minicab driver of 20 years, shows remarkable technical accomplishment. While the truths get tangled at the end, he has a real knack for dialogue that both flows and follows. However, rather than heralding a new voice, 'Snookered' is a perfectly decent mates-play in the late-'90s mould.
However, Iqbal Kahn's humorous production is made by its performances. Jaz Deol finds a kernel of sensitivity in Billy, Muzz Khan makes a lumbering giant of Shaf and Asif Khan is hilariously gawky as Kammy.
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