If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You – Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Writer: John O’Donovan
Director: Thomas Martin
Reviewer: Stephen Bates

“When this old world starts getting me down….” begins the Drifters song extolling the virtues of going up on the roof. The world is certainly getting Mikey and Casey down when, between robbing a petrol station and arriving at a Hallowe’en party, they encounter some cops and escape to become marooned on the roof of a house, surrounded by flashing blue lights. What follows could be the unlikeliest romantic comedy of the year.

Irish-born writer John O’Donovan sets his 70-minute debut play in a small town in County Clare. Mikey (Alan Mahon), in his early 20s, is the local-born tough guy with a soft centre; Casey (Ammar Duffus), 18-years-old, is the Croydon-born soft guy learning to get tough. The two actors have terrific chemistry from their very first lines, wringing every possible laugh from the cheeky script with snappy delivery and subtle gestures. It is all driven along by director Thomas Martin at a cracking pace.

The small space here is perfect for the play and it provides set designer Georgia de Grey with a head start, her sloping slate rooftop giving the characters just a chimney to cling to as they face sliding towards a 20 feet drop into police custody and probably hospital. The amoral pair are loveable rogues rather than villains, O’Donovan offering no apologies for their behaviour, and it is their touching mutual dependency that gives the play its heart.

Their conversation reveals that both Mikey and Casey are troubled by dysfunctional families and the small-town mentality that envelops them. They are gay, only partially out, not completely accepted, and they look to each other to resolve their confusion. They are up in the air, white powdery stuff promises to take them higher and the whiff of romance could lift them up to the stratosphere. Or will they fall to the ground with a thud?

Occasionally it feels as if confinement of the action cramps O’Donovan when perhaps the play needs to expand and the writer struggles to give the characters a satisfactory way out of their dilemma. However, this is a little comedy that shows real promise. Vertigo sufferers can forget it, but the rest should find it a quirky, irreverent and refreshing joy.

Runs until 24 September 2016 | Image: Contributed

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