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Here’s to the great British institution that is the Pub!

Review by Emma Whitelaw

NOW in is seventh successful year, The Union has once again produced a season of new short plays. This year features a celebration of fresh new writing inspired by that great British institution – the Pub.

At times deeply moving, the quirky, funny, pint-sized plays all take place in the familiar beer stained surroundings of what could easily be anyone’s local. Complete with karaoke machine, the set design is superb and will make you feel right at home.

The first play of the evening, The Perseverance, features Beth Vyse as the loveable barmaid the barflys like to call Colgate.

Serving pints with a patient smile, Colgate longs to leave her place behind the bar for greener pastures, saving her tips so that she can one day study or see the world.

The characters in The Perseverance are stereotypical, yet they have a rich complexity that forgives any predictability. Denis Quilligan plays an excellent drunken Irishman. His performance is complimented by Andrew Dickens' gusty characterisation of Andy the landlord.

The touching monologue featured in The Waterman is performed with eloquent precision by the ever so talented Howard Teale. It is a poignantly beautiful and poetic piece that reveals some alarming home truths about alcoholism.

The Juror sees the evening of shorts take a turn for the quirkier. With a hilarious sting in its tail, writer Sioned Jones had the audience in hysterics by the end of the piece.

The pub quiz takes a satirical bashing in Horst Buchholz and Other Stories. Stuart Draper is excellent as the uptight, pistol-wielding George. Having placed a ridiculously large bet with their arch-rival team, 'the flying underpants', George is particularly keen to win.

Someone’s Son comes as somewhat of a rude awakening amidst the hilarity of its predecessors. The lads have taken an evening of drunken antics one step too far and find themselves in the centre of a murder investigation.

Fingers are pointing in all directions and only Carli, played by Jessica Randell, has the ability to see that justice is done. But in order to expose the true culprits, she must also reveal a deep secret about herself.

Cocktail Conversation brings a deliciously camp vibe to the night. Downing cocktails and pills, Mike and Jim, played by Andrew Haslam and Philip Lawrence respectively, are on the prowl – in a big way! Haslam is an absolute riot as the bitchy queen that has pretty much done everyone in the bar.

The evening comes to a sobering conclusion as last drinks are called in Karaoke Nights. An emotionally charged piece, it will have you simultaneously in tears of joy and sadness.

Union of Shorts – PUB

The Perseverance written by Leila Borris, directed by Ben de Wynter. Starring Andrew Dickens, Andrew Obeney, Beth Vyse, Victoria Jeffrey and Denis Quilligan.

The Waterman written by Andrew Muir, directed by Ben de Wynter. Starring Howard Teale, Philip Lawrence and Andrew Dickens.

The Juror written by Sioned Jones, directed by Ian Groombridge. Starring Andrew Dickens, Nick Trumble, Aidan Crowley, Beth Vyse, Denis Quilligan, Howard Teale and Mark Mooney.

Horst Buchholz and Other Stories written by Matthew Wilkie, directed by Jaqui Somerville. Starring Victoria Jeffrey, Gary Mackay, Stuart Draper, Aidan Crowley and Sioned Jones.

Someone’s Son written by Rex Obano, directed by Michael Toumey. Starring Jessica Randell, Stewart O’Reilly, Tom Sawyer, Paul McCaffrey, Nick Trumble, James Brough, Olayinka Giwa and Andrew Dickens.

Cocktail Conversation written by Andrew Biss, directed by Sioned Jones. Starring Andrew Haslam and Philip Lawrence.

Karaoke Nights written by Terry Adlam, directed by Sasha Regan. Starring Stuart Draper, Gary Mackay, Sioned Jones, Victoria Jeffrey, Gillian McCafferty, Philip Lawrence and Andrew Obeney.

June 14 to July 2 at Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX. Box Office 020 7261 9876

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