Ella Hickson'snew play Boys is a funny, affectionate and touching look at the lives of four twenty-something guys living in a dishevelled shared flat.
Graduating students Benny (Danny Kirrane) and Mack (Samuel Edward Cook) share with Timp (Tom Mothersdale) and Cam (Lorn MacDonald), who are using the situation to conveniently avoid paying council tax.
The humour, partying and fun of their chaotic lifestyle sharply contrasts with the behaviour of Benny whose brother has recently committed suicide. Aside from the four men of the house, the other characters in the play are Sophie (Eve Ponsonby), who was in a relationship with Benny's brother but has now developed a destructive fixation with Mack, and Laura (Alison O'Donnell) who is Timp's long suffering girlfriend.
As the lives of the protagonists become ever more chaotic, their situation is mirrored by the mounting piles of rubbish in their kitchen and the growing social unrest and rioting taking place just down the road from their flat. Events build to a dramatic climax.
Hickson's script is well paced, packed with amusing lines and contains a real emotional depth which lends the show much of its charm. With this subject matter it would be easy to fall into cheap stereotypes and hackneyed portrayals of young people and drug culture but Boys avoids this through its authenticity.
Tom Mothersdale and Alison O'Donnel put in stand out performances as the charming but unreliable and chaotic Timp and his loving but misguided girlfriend Laura. Their antics provide some of the comedic highlights of the play including a rather ludicrous moment when Timp serves his flatmates sushi off Laura's stomach.
There are no weak links in the cast, as all the actors help contribute to the atmosphere of the play and have a real on-stage bond between them. At two and a half hours in length, it could feel a little long but avoids stagnation through its pace and the strength of both the script and the acting.
Boys combines social commentary with laugh out loud humour and some genuinely touching moments. Headlong Theatre and the cast should be commended for an excellent and engaging show.