Smock Alley Theatre
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Hip hop isn't about music as much as mastery: the ability to whip any mess of experience into a flow of lyrical dexterity and infinite invention. It's no mystery that eloquence appeals in particular to young men, for whom words don't come so easily otherwise.
Fionntán Larney’s excellent debut play articulates the predicament skilfully, its struggling young protagonists given full command of expression – rhyming with handheld microphones over pleasing old-school beats – even as deeper feelings are blamed on pills, powder or liquor, and rarely confronted.
“He wanted to say,” goes one refrain, when Harry Higgins’s vulnerable character loses his job, then his girlfriend, while his impulsive, addictive friend (Larney) urges them into a multichemical binge in Dublin.
A persuasive anatomy of toxic masculinity for the Hamilton generation, it also boasts a terrifically cutting female response to one misguided coked-up pick-up attempt, performed by Martha Breen among a multitude of other characters. Here, consequences spiral out of control precisely because nobody can say what they mean. Larney may push finally for a conclusion more drastic than the play needs, but this is spry, considered and sophisticated work. Bring this Beat back.