Feb 27 2024 | By More

★★★☆☆    Promising

Traverse: Tue 27 Feb – Sat 2Mar 2024
Review by Hugh Simpson

Jack by Liam Moffat, the first offering from A Play, A Pie and a Pint in 2024 at the Traverse, is a charmingly exuberant production.

The 20th anniversary season of Òran Mór’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint is the last with Jemima Levick at the helm, and is centred on emerging writers. Six of the eighteen plays will be coming to the Traverse, with the first (co-presented with Macrobert Arts Centre) being the debut professional play by Edinburgh-based Moffat.

Lawrence Boothman in JACK. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

A young, gay, Scottish man based in London feels unable to tell his partner that he doesn’t want the puppy he has been given at Christmas. Soon, however, he is visited by tragedy, and that puppy may be the only thing can anchor him to reality.

The Jack of the title is the dog – the character performing the monologue, and his partner, remain nameless.

That central character, however, is given a great deal of individuality and vitality by Lawrence Boothman, in a performance of abundant energy, good humour and an involving presence.


Moffat’s script features laugh-out-loud jokes (some decidedly filthy) as well as its share of touching moments. There is a grounded, believable nature behind it all. It is noticeable that an event that would have been more central in such a story only a few years ago – such as the casual homophobia that sidelines the narrator at a funeral – is here just one more element in the examination of grief.

This, like the depictions of love and family, is handled with care, and Moffat’s writing shows real promise.

Lawrence Boothman in JACK. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

It is not all quite so convincing; an apparent desire to shoehorn too much into the 50-minute running time means that the story ends up as somewhat episodic, a feeling heightened by the appearance of lines of dialogue behind Boothman like chapter titles.

There is also a suspicion that Moffat wants to have his cake and eat it; fun is poked at ‘wellness’ but it still makes up a large part of the narrative, and the films of Robin Williams are given more attention and weight than they can really bear. A sudden lurch into fantasy, moreover, jars a little.

Boothman’s delivery of Moffat’s punchy dialogue compensates, however, with the direction of Traverse Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls being fluid and assured. Kenny Miller’s set, simple but far from understated, matches the play perfectly.

The end result is immensely likeable, and augurs well for the rest of the season.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 27 February – Saturday 23 March 2024
Daily at 1 pm (Wed 3 pm)
Details and tickets: Book here.

Lawrence Boothman in JACK. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


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