James Graham has chosen a fascinating subject for his new comedy – an intriguing neurological condition called synaesthesia in which information processed through one cognitive pathway triggers the functioning of another.

In advertising exec Barney’s case, words and colours are all mixed up together – wavy patterns make him dizzy and tartan catapults him into a headache of colourful sensory overload.

But the way he experiences the world also gives him an edge when it comes to winning a new account – a skill his colleague Nicola encourages when pitching to the agency’s latest potential client.

With the possibility of a posting to Mumbai in the offing, she’s desperate to impress their obnoxious boss (Simon Merrells) with a campaign to reinvent vodka as the new, aspirational whisky. Kate O’Flynn is in verbal overdrive as the determined Nicola, and there’s stolid support from John Stahl as the eponymous Scotsman in a kilt.

Summoned to London so that she can pick his brains, he’s happy to impart what he knows about life and whisky but stubbornly refuses to even taste the vodka.

As shy, lovesick Barney, Samuel Barnett is touchingly perfect, prepared to sacrifice his career rather than break up a working partnership he wishes he could turn into something more.

There’s more than the germ of a first rate play here, but Graham shows a tendency to overwrite and, although the result is frequently enjoyable, he hasn’t yet managed to distil his promising ingredients into anything like a vintage blend.


Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush Green, W12 8QD, (020 8743 5050)  till 20th February (£15 {Saturday matinees £13})