Pic Alex Mead Decoy Media

84 people take their own lives every week in the UK. Roughly 75% of them are men.

Under Three Moons by Daniel Kanaber is a two hander which explores the intricacies and unsaid conversations which undermine male friendships.

It’s the latest production from Box of Tricks, a great theatre company which gives new writers a chance to tell their stories and get them staged.

We are constantly told by the media that men do not talk to other. This makes Kanaber’s perceptive piece incredibly timely and the good news is that the play has a lovely balance between comedy and pathos.

We follow two men Michael (Kyle Rowe) and Paul (Darren Kuppan) and we eavesdrop on their conversations over a 30-year period.  They meet at school and do not get on, as they are complete opposites. Then after a school trip to France in which Michael does something despicable, they find themselves drawn to the very things that keep them apart.

Pic Alex Mead Decoy Media

Daniel Kanaber’s writing has a beautifully natural flow with dialogue that crackles, and this is delivered with panache by these two brilliant performers. Kyle Rowe is magnificently Mancunian, and goes from swagger to carer as he tries to nurture his one-time high-flying friend who does not talk about what is really affecting him.

Likewise, Darren Kuppan cleverly plays two sides to his character – academic and not one to suffer fools gladly and insular and quite lonely, even in the company of others. These two men talk loads, but much of what they do is chat shit over heady nights of drink and drugs.

Yet their days over these three decades encompass grief, dealing with family trouble and strife, alienation, and a real sense of displacement. When Michael finally opens up and talks about his baby son and the fact that he does not really know how to relate to him, even though he is trying really hard, he explores the fact that his partner has a natural maternal relationship. It is absolutely heart-breaking.

Great Northern Warehouse Manchester

The writing is moving in so many ways because this feeling of uselessness is not really explored until 30 years into this friendship. You slowly realise that these two have camped out under the stars, had some great experiences together and are lifelong friends, but so much has been unsaid. And it begs the question: do they really know each other?

Rowe and Kuppan hold your attention throughout. These are mighty real performances with a magnetic quality which draws you to the exquisite writing.

Adam Quayle directs with a delicate touch, allowing scenes to breathe and have twice the impact as a result. Louise Anderson’s lighting illuminates this funny and touching friendship and Chris Hope’s music is as poignant as seeing a new born baby for the first time.

Box of Tricks have produced a perfectly formed play which delivers an important message without the patronising tone.  Funny and charming, Under Three Moons puts a spotlight on male friendship and what happens if we keep it all in. The effect is dazzling.

Under Three Moons is at The Lowry until 28th September and is touring the UK until November.

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