Star of my own show James Cartwright as Shane certainly is in Raz; an intense energetic monologue depicting a typical British Friday night out.
The play opens with Shane, in a pair of superman underpants, having his 9 minute tan in preparation for the Friday night out with the boys. By the time he meets up with them his tan will be a ‘pale brown shadow’. Shadow is the word here for underlying this highly entertaining and often laugh out loud funny monologue there is, of course, something dark. His week is spent in grey overalls in a low-paid job; he still lives with his mum. Friday nights are what he lives for. He has them down to a fine art – organising his friends, the ‘birds’, what pubs to go to, what drugs to get. He has even worked out the precise order and timing to take each drug to get the maximum effect to take him to the top. Then there is the plunge. Across the dancefloor he spots his ex-girlfriend. It is this almost ghostly appearance that reveals a chink in the armour of this apparently tough good-time guy.
Raz is staged in the intimate setting of Trafalgar Studio 2. Cartwright’s performance with the clever use of sound and light transforms you from the buzz and clink of the pub to the dark street to the flashing lights and loud freneticism of the dance club. The use of the minimal props is equally clever – an exercise ball becomes a taxi seat in one situation. It all combines to put you there with Shane and his mates in the pubs, nightclubs and even the taxi. James Cartwright is superb as Shane, maintaining a flawless and, at times, almost hyperactive performance. The script is fantastic, rhyming and rhythmic in places, full of brilliant imagery, description and dialogue. At one point there is a joke about how man’s ways of entertainment hasn’t changed through the ages, and indeed Raz, with Shane as its hero, is very much the epic tale through a dark underworld. I was engrossed from beginning to end – you will be too.