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Reviews Edinburgh Published 12 August 2015

Raz

Assembly George Square ⋄ 6th - 31st August 2015

On the town.

Nicole Serratore

 “I want to see her, I don’t! Do. Don’t….STOP. Get back in feelings.”

As Shane douses himself with body spray, its redolent cloud drifts from the stage through the theater. The potent scent lingers in my nostrils long after Shane has left home, geared up for a wild night on the town with his mates.

Jim Cartwright’s play Raz can at times lay on the perfumed poetry a little thick (“worn-away weave, like the very soul of the pub itself, a mucky magic carpet that will fly us out and into our night”).  This doesn’t always quite feel like the organic musings of a twenty-something mostly interested in drinking and drugging his troubles away for a Friday night. But if you can give over to such lyricism it eventually relays the sharp emotional mettle of the character of Shane and of the play.

Shane’s astute observations about his life and his world are deceptively richer than his carefully cultivated tanning-bed glow.  With moments that recall flickers of Saturday Night Fever, Chapel Street, and Dead Party Animals, we’re invited by Shane to join him from pub to club and he gives us a glimpse into his life as a “weekend millionaire”—living at home with his parents and partying hard on his Friday night.

“The start of the weekend spending spree. Got to be. Who says I’m throwing my loot away, Monday, it’s back to grey.”

Booze, pills, birds, rinse, repeat.  But as the evening moves on and he’s in the grips of a myriad of substances, honesty takes the place of his loutish bravado. The shiny veneer of this cavalier image he’s cultivating begins to break down and we see him acting more out of pain than joy, out of lack of opportunity rather than choice.  Our brief window deeper into Shane’s psyche is where the real meat is here (though audiences may enjoy the superficial six-pack abs also on display).  Ultimately the story of disgruntled youth living for the weekends in an increasingly frustrating and limited world is not new but the high-quality execution makes it a strong offering at Fringe and particularly because of James Cartwright’s gripping performance as Shane.

James Cartwright (who also happens to be the playwright’s son) deftly carries this monologue.  From a Welsh cab driver, to Shane’s slow talking mate Sparky, to the gaggle of girls Shane has dialed up for the evening, James Cartwright gives each new character introduced a distinct voice and manner.  As Shane, his performance moves from high-energy to spiraling breakdown with clarity and consistency.

The production boasts top-level sound design (by Ben and Max Ringham) and lighting.  With few props and no scenery, Anthony Banks’ minimalist production, establishes various locations and scenarios largely through lighting and sound. At times this is effective but sometimes this production’s slickness (sudden arcade sounds at the mere mention of video games) feels at odds with the more scrappy (and charming) storytelling techniques also employed, like bouncing on a yoga ball to simulate a springy taxi cab journey.

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Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore writes about theater for The Village Voice, The Stage, American Theatre magazine, TDF Stages, and Flavorpill. She was a co-host and co-producer of the Maxamoo theater podcast. She blogs at Mildly Bitter's Musings.

Raz Show Info


Directed by Anthony Banks

Written by Jim Cartwright

Cast includes James Cartwright

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