I'll 'fess up right away: I've never been that interested in Johnny Cash. I do at least recognise the singer's name – which means I'm better-educated than Greg, the Glaswegian lead character in this engaging and spirited two-hander. But I've always assumed I wouldn't be a fan, and the biggest compliment I can pay this show is to say that within the first ten minutes it had changed my mind.
All Cashed In is difficult to pigeon-hole. It's kind-of a tribute act, kind-of a play, and at times lead performer Jamie Rodden's delivery resembles a stand-up routine. The storyline isn't the strongest – towards the end, in fact, it just gets quietly forgotten – but the interplay between the two principal characters is touching, and the set-up does its job of giving Rodden plenty of opportunity to reach for his guitar.
Because that music is the highlight. Whether or not Rodden sounds like Cash is a question I can't answer, but he's a powerful and compelling singer on his own right, delivering the lyrics with laconic concealed emotion. By the standards of Fringe theatre it's a superlative performance; it's clear that Rodden is a singer and an actor in equal measure, not just an actor who can hold a tune.
I enjoyed the music so much, in fact, that I wish they'd squeezed in one more number, perhaps by cutting some of the slightly-rambling dialogue which takes place in a prison cell. But the modern-day scene-setting does serve a purpose, highlighting that a song like Man In Black is as relevant now as it was in 1971. Many of the Scottish political in-jokes will be lost on a Brighton audience – but trust me when I tell you that they're actually very funny.
Over time, however, Greg's musings head off in a slightly different direction: there are strange coincidences in his life, and he comes to think that Cash's spirit has somehow transferred to his body. Listening to the excited chatter as we filed out afterwards, it was clear that the majority of the audience were die-hard Cash fans, and they'd all known exactly where this train of thought was heading. For me, though, the ending was a fitting surprise – wrapping up the storyline with one last song, and offering hope that perhaps, despite the brevity of life, our spirits will endure.
If you don't know who Kris Kristofferson is or recognise the opening bars of A Boy Named Sue, then some of this show will pass you by. But even if you're not already a fan, there's plenty here to enjoy… and you might, like me, find you emerge with some new favourites to add to your playlist.