The Best Pints is a lovely, short (55 min) show by Jack Gallagher, on the surface about very little, as three friends who like their stout challenge each other to talk about the best pint they ever had.
Gerry (Warren Rusher), a divorced dad, David (Tarik Badwan), a widower, and Steve (Matthew Blaney), who has made poor choices in the past, all have a tale to tell.
The pub setting is minimal – borrowing the space painted for Iphigenia, it has three chairs, a small stool/table, a rug, and three pint glasses. It’s enough: you’re there.
The Best Pints pours on the blarney in Steve’s fantastical recollections but also hits home with family truths and the reality of growing with grief in Gerry and David’s accounts.
Pacing the room, taking on characters in the stories, or simply reacting quietly to shared experience, all three actors shine in this conversational and charming play.
What seems simple becomes profound as the three friends show how their routine of four nights a week down the last pub to pour a proper pint has led to their unquestionable support of each other as friends.
There’s other areas that ring true, as well: a child dealing with parents whose fights mean the end of stability and marriage; the lifetime support of a football club even if watching them fail is the worst of times.
For Rusher’s introspective Gerry, the approach of his forties has meant maturity while still having a sense of fun. Blaney’s Steve seems a little prickly at times, as though he could slide back – but we trust with good company and good pints he won’t.
Badwan’s David has the shortest straw, with the best intentions of friends suggesting he remembers happy days causing more heartbreak. But as his story proves, the breakthroughs are in the most unlikely of places.
The Best Pints will appeal to a wide audience, whether seasoned pub-dwellers or stay-at-homes.
Director Kay Dent stays away from any temptation to stage this show in a flashy way so the writing and performances stay centre stage.
You can see FishMail Productions’s The Best Pints at the Hope Theatre again on 29-30 Jan – tickets here.