Overspill, Soho Theatre, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Baron, Finch and Potts – mates since they were tiny – are 20-year-old Bromley lads who are looking forward to larging it in the town centre on a Friday night.

It's their usual ritual of booze and burgers – for two of them, it has never really extended to birds. Their stamping ground may be a wasteland of generically identical McDonald's, Lloyds and Primark but they rattle off the litany of names as if they were one of those exotic roll-calls from an epic. Their derring-do might be limited to sneaking, with inadequate ID, past nightclub bouncers and to promising themselves "20 pints and two sicks", but there is something infectiously mock-heroic about their cockiness as they swagger round the three circular bollards that comprise the set in Tim Roseman's vibrant production, and there's a Three Musketeers' twinkle of "all for one, and one for all" in their jaunty catchphrase "we, the lads".

But then their plans for the weekend are thrown right off course when a bomb rips through the High Street McDonald's where they were recently scoffing. Further bombs explode, seemingly following them around during the next day. In the mounting hysteria, an ugly vigilante mentality develops, with the finger of guilt pointing (through a series of plausible and not-so-plausible accidents) at the lads as they trawl Bromley for the man they have convinced themselves is the perpetrator.

Ali Taylor's small, but perfectly formed (and perfectly performed) hour-long play was joint winner of Metamorphosis 08, a competition organised by the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. Throughout, you know just why the judges were moved to award it this distinction. The heightened poetic writing – with its half-rhymes, alliteration and assonances – has a pulsating rhythm, beautifully attuned to the strutting beat of bravado, the pounding nightmare of paranoia and sudden outbursts of savagery.

It's delivered in a production that rises to it in rhythmic, choreographed vitality. Taylor adds a subjective dimension, with the three characters offering competitive story-lines. Danny Worters' nerdy likeable Potts wants everything to remain exactly the same. Syrus Lowe's Baron is torn by longings for a girl and a law degree. It's the TA fanatic and army reject Finch (Paul Stocker) who feels at home in this new environment of terrorist extremity, buzzing on the thrill of danger, and confessing that he has never felt more alive. A disturbing figure in a short play of distinct promise.

To 1 November (020-7478 0100)