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Sniff – Park Theatre | Review

There’s an energetic dynamism in this play that never lets up in what is at times a wickedly dark comedy entirely set in a pub toilet. Alex (Felix Granger) is trying, in the sense that a parent might say to a child to ‘have a try’ before the family sets off on a long car journey. It isn’t long before Liam (Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson) emerges from a cubicle and strikes up an unlikely conversation with Alex. Indeed, elements of the story are a bit contrived – what on earth is a guy with a decent job wanting to impress his girlfriend doing inviting her to a seemingly random pub that isn’t local to him or her? Why didn’t he book a nice restaurant or something?

Sniff at Park Theatre
Sniff at Park Theatre

Other elements of the story work brilliantly. Alex’s job, working for an advertising agency, is utilised by Liam, who wants some help with pitching an idea. It’s ridiculous enough to be mildly amusing, and is pooh-poohed by Alex, but there have been worse ideas brought before investors in the television show Dragons’ Den. The play does well to provide, without being preachy about it, a social commentary, and through scenes involving the characters’ respective family members, it becomes clear that neither man got to where they are now on their own.

The play casts a sympathetic (without in the least bit saccharine) nod towards people who find themselves in the throes of being addicted to online gambling. Liam made considerable efforts to stop, but a representative from a firm called Bet-Time talked him into securing payday loans to feed his (Liam’s) gambling habit, with all sorts of implications, including his ability to socialise with friends. True to form, he even insists on gambling personal possessions with Alex. But when Alex breaks down, faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges of his own, is he really a ‘better’ person than Liam, just because he’s holding down a job and is up to date with his bills?

There isn’t any kind of sudden redemption for either character, and if anything, the play serves as a timely reminder that sharp suits and disposable income can’t buy happiness. Both actors play multiple characters with no costume changes, with alterations to voice and mannerisms proving more than sufficient to distinguish one person from another. A thrilling rollercoaster that easily held my attention from start to finish.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Written and performed by Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson and Felix Granger
Lighting design – Beril Yavuz

When two people who are seemingly strangers meet in a pub toilet in a small town that no one cares about, the things that connect them gradually emerge through twists and turns and unexpected revelations. Liam, struggling with addiction and money troubles, has never left the claustrophobic town that birthed him. Alex, cloaked in a Hugo Boss suit and the pride of a job in Canary Wharf, comes down to visit this quaint place with his girlfriend and an engagement ring. In a dark comedy ode to the forgotten, Sniff is a slowly unravelling mystery about two men from different walks of life who find that, in the gents, everyone is the same.

14 to 24 May 2024
Running time: 70 minutes
Suitable for ages 14+
Park Theatre

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