Samuel Heaney’s “Emerald Boy” is brought to Greenside @ Infirmary Street by students from the University of the West of England. It is a friendly, informal play with a cast who seem to be mostly having a go at acting. There is a scenario with a little green man (James Davies) who has randomly parked his UFO outside a pub. The police constable (Becky FitzGerald) – officious and with that timeless nasal voice – is summoned. Next, a trigger-happy “Man in Black” arrives and a character is gunned down when he tries to make a run for it. Just as when Nigel Farage came to Edinburgh, these students end up being trapped in a pub.
In any comic play like this, a pub affords a good opportunity to dream up a glorious name. I volunteer The Spanked Bottom since “Emerald Boy” has inexplicably forgotten to name its pub. If I owned a pub in the West Country, it would be called The Spanked Bottom.
The dialogue between this play’s two chaps Dan (Max Harlow) and Josh (Mason Young) is laddish and the sort of thing that student unions pass earnest resolutions against these days. It is indeed rather a guilty pleasure. There is promising material in the script and on occasion an enjoyable thoroughness to the tomfoolery. The story always rolls cheerfully along like a ball, never going very fast but without any slowing down or bumps in the humour. If the cast rehearsed this play as seriously if it was “Hamlet,” and became more ambitious in their direction, then you could imagine “Emerald Boy” entertaining far larger audiences than the handful who saw it today.