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The Independent Culture
Anal Obsession might have been a better collective title for these two one-man plays by Richard Hope, for although they are wildly different in tone, they skilfully expose the hidden depths that fill up the gaps and make us tick. In "Dear Prudence", we see the archetypal Beatles geek, who "coulda been a contender" until, like Pete Best, he was dropped from the drumstool while his band went on to make a million. The piece comically confirms the adage that those who can do, those who can't teach - or, as is the case here, become tuppeny-ha'penny hacks.

"Traffic" is an altogether murkier affair, a frightening portrayal of what goes on inside the mind of an early-bird commuter who's effectively shut love out of his life. Preferring prostitutes and porn, things go horribly wrong when he falls for one of his whores and all his latent hatred comes out kicking, screaming and worse. There is no redemption on offer here, just hard-boiled backstreet machismo. You can almost smell the after-shave and king-size filter tips. It's the terror, though, that lingers.

Andrew Stanson performs both pieces with confidence and poise, and with Richard Hope already picked up for a full-length work at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, you'd better catch these formative works while you can.

n Cafe Royal. To 31 Aug

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