Theatre review: Sugar Baby

He bursts on to the stage like a rocket, high-fiving the audience, dancing and shouting. This high-octane tone is pretty much the mood for the rest of the play '“ and the packed audience loves it. 'People like me aren't supposed to have a story,' he sniggers.

Roundabout @ Summerhall (Venue 26)


He’s Marc, from Cardiff, a small-town drugs dealer, pursued by loan shark Oggy, who’s spotted a gap in the market after Wonga “tightened up their rules”. Oggy’s lent Marc’s Dad £6,000, which Marc is now trying to repay, joined by his former schoolmate Lisa, who Oggy’s obsessed with. Cue: conflict.

In a comedy cartoon caper that feels a little like Lock Stock set in Wales, Alan Harris offers a farcical, heightened view of provincial life, petty crime and never leaving the town you’ve grown up in. The fast-paced dialogue, full of sharp comebacks, doesn’t really need all the extra energy sole performer Alex Griffin-Griffiths brings, under Catherine Paskell’s direction, eyes wired like someone who’s just snorted a load of coke – which is appropriate given the subject matter.

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After we’ve followed Marc and Lisa all over town, not entirely sure of where they’re going but doing it very quickly, a stand-off between Marc and Oggy takes place at the ice-cream kiosk. What happens here hints at somewhere darker the play could go but then pulls back from, keen to continue the comedy.

Marc is a refreshingly likeable voice: a non-PC but appealing chap who seems to think every woman “looks great in everything she wears”. Lisa is similarly engaging, although her role as the ‘sugar baby’ of the title is less explored. This is really Marc’s story.

When its ending arrives, the audience erupts, cheering and leaping to their feet. It’s like our Griffin-Griffiths has run a marathon, rather than put on a play. Boom! He punches the air, and then he’s gone.

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 6:05pm.