[4_stars ]

Picture courtesy of Channel Four

Cast: Chris Mason, Chris Michael Hall, Colin Mace, Con O’Neill, Debra Stephenson, Jo Hartley, Jodie Comer.

Liverpool audiences will be used to the name Laurence Wilson appearing under the title of writer for many a play that has been staged in the city. From his time as Writer-in-Residence at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, anyone attending his one of his well-written and insightful pieces will know they are going to get good quality drama.

Postcode Lottery is Laurence Wilson’s latest work and as part of Channel Four’s Coming Up season of plays is one of the most sensitively written and darkly comic about the subject of cancer.

Postcode Lottery starred Con O’ Neill as Jed, a man who discovers he has cancer but the N.H. S. refuse to treat him and yet just round the corner from Jed lives his friend Mary who is entitled to the same treatment. This is how the system of health has become fractured and splintered and under the excellent script written by Laurence Wilson is captured in all its grim glory.

In the last couple of years Con O’Neill has performed on stage back in his adopted home of Liverpool and has once again become a house hold name to television audiences thanks to starring roles in Wallander and Lewis. The one thing that has always been evident is that Con O’Neill is one of the great actors and in Postcode Lottery he once again proves why he is so highly rated an artist. In one specific moment the scene where the viewer sees Con O’ Neill doubled up in pain is both moving and meticulously acted.

The question is when sensing an end do you go out fighting or meekly accept the answers given, Laurence Wilson shows what can be done when pushed to the limit but also the heartbreak it can cause to relationships and the possibility of love.

The painful moment where Mary realises that Jed has been unintentionally using her to move into her house so he too can get the treatment to help ease his pain is touching, distressing and almost everything you would expect from a superb script by the man behind Blackberry Troutface, Lost Monsters and the 2008 radio play, Tin Man.

Ian D. Hall