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More `man'. (`Green' With Bile).

If London had a proper commercial equivalent to Off Broadway, there might have been an extended life for "The Green Man," the Doug Lucie play that finished a sellout Bush Theater run March 22. I caught the show's final perf and am very glad I did, however overwritten and occasionally repetitive Lucie's barroom saga sometimes was.

Those cavils, as always with Lucie ("Progress," "Hard Feelings"), must be set against his characteristic cut-and-thrust, a killer approach that has been firing up leftist British drama for two decades. In "The Green Man" (its name comes from the pub where the play is set), an ever-fractious Britain is embodied by two men prepping for a fishing trip. (Phil Daniels' Lou, indeed, arrives clutching a copy of Carpworld, not a magazine of my acquaintance.)

Bespectacled lefty Lou is an emotive veteran of two failed marriages who has sworn off sex. His antithesis is his ultra-materialistic employer, Mitch (a memorably bristling Danny Webb), an adulterer as immune to peace and quiet as Lou is to his boss's bully-boy ways.

While publican Bernie (John Ramm) plies the men with drinks, an increasingly smashed assemblage sees their illusions smashed as various prejudices are punishingly, biliously aired. The didacticism inherent in the writing rankles surprisingly little, set against the compelling sight of Webb and Daniels circling each other like two fisherman awaiting their own impalement on some unseen hook. They, and the entire cast, deserve a comeback; so, in a suitably intimate environment, does Lucie's play.

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Author:Wolf, Matt
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 7, 2003
Previous Article:Heading to Edinburgh. (`Sea'-ing Shaw).
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