Playwright Ishy Din writes of the lives of young Muslim men in the north of England in Snookered in a way only possible to someone with first-hand knowledge of his subject. A former cab driver who has also worked in video shops and restaurants, Din is superbly qualified to present credible real-life characters.

In his first play for the stage (though there have been others for radio and television) he shows an assured grasp of stagecraft in a piece that is at once compelling and disturbing. The setting is a working-class boozer so brilliantly created in Ciaran Bagnall’s designs that you feel inclined to wander over and join the lads propping up the bar under the eye of taciturn barman Dave (Michael Luxton).

The temptation must be resisted, for here is consumption of alcohol on an industrial scale, chiefly instigated by the play’s lovable rogue Shaf (Muzz Khan), as he at once shows himself to be.

With him from the start is the clearly much calmer Billy (Jaz Deol), who is now living in the south for reasons only later to be explained. Eventually, they will be joined by Kamy (Asif Khan), who is evidently not the brightest of the team but an eminently likable dimwit nonetheless, and sharp-suited Mo (Peter Singh) whose determination to better himself marks him out from the others. They are there to play games of pool in commemoration of their friend, T, who died six years before. The nature of his demise is also not explained until late in the day, by which time the knockabout comic feel of the first half-hour or so, nicely managed under director Iqbal Khan, has developed into something much darker.

While the title of the play obviously refers to the game being played by the men, it conjures up an impression, too, of their being ‘snookered’ — which is to say placed in a difficult position — in their own lives. This arises principally from the clash of their ambitions with the cultural expectations of an older generation of Asian muslims.