Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Friday night: the happiest part of every adult’s week. “Monday it’s back to grey”, exclaims Shane (James Cartwright), but on Friday the week is done and the freedom of the weekend awaits. Some look forward to spending much-needed time with their children or families; some are thinking about decorating the house or relaxing in the garden. The 20-something generation of today, however, are (for the most part) getting home, getting changed and getting back out there to party the night away. Pre-drinks, bars, shots, clubs, pills, dancing, kebabs, vomit, sex – a standard Friday night out for those taking full advantage of their weekly earnings. In Raz, written by actor, James Cartwright’s father, Jim Cartwright, Shane is just another of the lads getting ready, meeting his mates and going on the pull. In this one-man show, he takes centre stage and confidently describes to the audience a typical Friday night. Another young guy into his looks, into his mates and into his birds, Shane is a stereotypical lad. From the blue buzz of the tanning booth to the pub crawl for the pills and pints, to the thumping techno beats in the bars – Shane is living it all. But this particular night out hits him for six; this particular drinking session is interrupted by accidentally bumping into his ex-girlfriend.
A real double-act of this one-man production, Cartwright portrays Shane with arrogance, accuracy and an affable nature. Despite being brash and far too cocky for his own good, Cartwright has an immediate connection with the audience. His delivery is controlled, well-paced and magnetic to watch, a rollercoaster journey that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the play. All the way through there is a bravado, an insistence to appear one of the lads and on top of his game. But Cartwright also shows depth and emotional turmoil – every so often his ex-girlfriend creeps into his subconscious and the audience watch as he is less and less able to shake it off and remain the life and soul of the party. Maybe he sees a similar-looking girl out of the corner of his eye; maybe a song comes on in a bar that reminds him of her. Cartwright maintains a façade of confidence, dismissing his feelings out of hand because they aren’t manly; they aren’t going to get him laid that night.
In the end he is alone, on a come-down from his cocktail of drugs and at his most vulnerable. The mask has cracked, the pain overcomes him and in the safety and security of the night, he is finally able to break down and cry. A powerful ending indeed.
Raz is playing at Trafalgar Studios until 16 April. For more information and future shows, see the ATG Tickets website.