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So Here We Are review: Male friendships and macho mourning take centre stage at Hornchurch's Queen's Theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 September 2019

The cast of So Here We Are, a Burntwood Prize winning play by Romford-born Luke Norris. Picture: Mark Sepple

The cast of So Here We Are, a Burntwood Prize winning play by Romford-born Luke Norris. Picture: Mark Sepple

Archant

With razor-sharp dialogue and a moving sense of macho camaraderie running throughout, the Queen's Theatre 's new production of So Here We Are is a long hard look at male friendship and how young blokes cope with grief.

The play - written by Romford boy and star of BBC One's Poldark, Luke Norris - opens with 20-something friends Smudge, Pugh, Pidge and Dan killing time on Southend pier after their best mate Frankie's funeral.

But as close-knit as these childhood friends may be, there are some things that even the best of friends won't, or can't talk about.

The first thing that strikes you about Norris' script is how well he has managed to capture, and translate to the stage, that unique blend of confrontation and warm-heartedness that is male banter in your 20s.

Oliver Yellop's Pidge is a particular highlight.

A builder by trade with the mouth of a sailor, Pidge is determined to lighten the mood but might not be going about it the best way.

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He's joined by Smudge (Matthew Hood), who is on a diet and prone to day-dreaming; Pugh (Omar Austin), the level-headed one who seems to be the most traditional mourner; and Dan (Lewis Bruniges) who has withdrawn somewhat since their mate Frankie's death.

And then there's Kirsty (Amy Vicary-Smith), Frankie's childhood-sweetheart, who is trying to come to terms with the fact she might not have known her life-long boyfriend as well as she thought.

All of them are, in their own ways, harbouring their own secrets when it comes to Frankie, so it's no surprise when, roughly a third of the way through the action, the question of whether or not their friend killed himself sparks a bitter confrontation.

The first half of the play, set entirely on Southend Pier, is an absolute tour-de-force - filled with moments of incredible poignancy but also cutting humour.

Come the play's second half (and prospective audience members should be made aware that there is no interval as the play runs for 90 minutes straight) we go back in time and get a glimpse at Frankie's (James Trent) life and just why some of his friends have come to believe that his car crash wasn't quite an accident.

It's haunting at times, and come the final curtain you'll no doubt be wondering whether you know your own friends quite as well as you think you do.

So Here We Are is playing at the Queen's Theatre until September 28.

Visit www.queens-theatre.co.uk or call 01708 443333 to book tickets.

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