Demons with Clean Faces is Leeds-based writer Luke Smith's first full-length play and it is an accomplished piece that combines old-fashioned morality tale – God and the Devil both make memorable appearances – with a satirical look at our very modern obsession with celebrity gossip, money and fame.
The play opens with two tramps scavenging for food in dustbins. How these young men came to be in such a dire situation is revealed in flashback – the first in a series of cinematic devices and film references that for the most part work in the play's favour. The tramps are, in fact, old friends; university drop-outs who are desperate to make it as journalists – the kind who peddle in big-money stories of scandal and sleaze. They think they are on to something when they find work as waiters to newspaper tycoon Mr Green, whose other interests include gun-running, international politics and extra-marital sex with prostitutes... Jimmy Walters and Tom Holloway as the two tramps make a great comic double act and the rest of the young cast all give very strong, committed performances.
There were one or two moments towards the end of the second half where the pace started to dip a little but these were more than compensated for by the overall drive, wit, energy and inventiveness of the script and direction.
Strange Twig Theatre Company at the Carriageworks, Leeds
The Carriageworks, June 13.