I HAVE been reviewing at this theatre for more than 20 years and in that time I've had the privilege of seeing some truly great performances.
But I can't remember the last time a performance actually brought me to my feet. That said, actors of the calibre of Scott Ransome don't come along very often, do they?
He plays Johnny "Rooster" Byron, a charmless, amoral waster who refuses to live by society's rules quite brilliantly. He expertly tackles the sort of character who'd sell his own grandmother if e thought he'd gain from the transaction but, despite his many faults its hard not to be captivated by this larger than life low life.
For the local young people, for "local young people" read waifs and strays, he's like the Pied Piper, his shabby caravan a Mecca for drug using party animals. But his drug and booze fuelled existence is under threat, by developers desperate to get their hands on the land he lives on.
Byron is one of the most fascinating characters in contemporary drama for me and Ransome gives him the five star treatment when it comes to bringing Jez Butterworth's classic creation yo life.
However, it would be wrong to refer to John Cunningham's perfectly observed production as the Scott Ransome Show. A strong ensemble also plays it's part in making this trip to the other side of the social tracks a truly memorable one. I really liked Matthew Banwell as the rule bending landlord Wesley and the always watchable Mark Butt as Ginger, who dreams of being a celebrity DJ one day.
I hope this play, a masterpiece in so many ways, gets the houses it deserves and people are brave enough to see beyond the strong language. Some of Butterworth's dialogue is superb.
* Until March 24. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - *****