Review: Sniff, Jack Studio Theatre

Make It Beautiful Theatre Company’s Sniff is a two-hander with a point of difference at the Brockley Jack Theatre

“Sorry, are you talking to me?”

Though it may not seem like it, Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson and Felix Grainger’s Sniff starts off as a horror story. The mere notion of anyone striking up a conversation in the gents of a sketchy pub should make the blood run cold and so as Alex bursts into the facilities of such an establishment to be met by the garrulous Liam, you just know that nothing good is going to come from it.

The cleverness of Sniff is how it unfolds that turn of events because at first, there doesn’t seem to be anything connecting this pair. Liam is a local lad from this depressed town, struggling with multiple addictions and diminished horizons; Alex is a suited and booted Canary Wharf sort, ready to propose to his girlfriend in this random spot he’s chosen, once he’s negotiated the banter here that is.

It’s entertaining banter too, given a sharp edge by the stash that Liam is strangely keen to share with Alex. And as the pair indulge in some of the nose candy, the intensity of their interaction ramps up. Revelations become more personal, connections draw ever closer, the circumstances of this apparently random meetings eventually sliding into focus.

Ben Purkis’ production possesses enough energy to keep this single-room drama well-plumbed, canny lighting design allowing for clearly delineated flashbacks and drawing edgy performances from Fogarty-Graveson and Grainger which keep us on the edge of our seat. Leaning towards naturalism in the set design is the only real flaw – has there ever been a pub toilet that big!.

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Sniff is booking at the Jack Studio Theatre until 11th February

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