THE chances of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem or The Ferryman ever being performed in York are pretty much nil, but along with University of Hull alumnus James Graham, he has become one of the vital voices of British theatre.

So leap like a salmon at the chance to see his dark and mysterious chamber piece The River, the first Butterworth work to be staged in York since Pilot Theatre's regional premiere of his black comedy Parlour Song in July 2011.

York company Wildgoose Theatre's production is a regional premiere too, this time an 80-minute one-act psychological drama from 2012 that hooks you in like the river sport at the heart of the play.

Wildgoose are one of York's theatrical gems, quietly going about the business of making high quality theatre with local ingredients. Astute director Andy Love has cast well, picking three of York's best talents: George Stagnell, at present busy with recalls to win a much deserved place at London drama schools, and regular leading ladies Claire Morley and Anna Rogers, both always strong on characterisation.

Love also has designed a set that eliminates awareness of the sometimes distracting doors on to the Friargate stage by building the open-plan shell of a cabin within the theatre, wholly immersing you in the treacherous murk of Butterworth's intriguing puzzle of a story.

York Press:

Something fishy going on? George Stagnell as The Man and Anna Rogers as The Other Woman in The River. Picture: Michael J Oakes

On a moonless August night, when the sea trout are ready to run, just right for fly-fishing, a man referred to only as The Man (Stagnell) has brought his new girlfriend (The Woman, Morley) to the remote family cabin where he has enjoyed fly-fishing since he was a boy: like his uncle before him.

Is she the only woman he has brought here? Exit The Woman, enter The Other Woman (Rogers), and the waters of Butterworth's story start to muddy. Scene by scene, the audience begins to wonder about the time line; which woman came there first; what is The Man up to, preparing a dish of freshly caught, carefully gutted sea trout, one carrot, half a potato, lemon and seasoning, with such methodical precision, that you sense he has done this rather more than once or twice before.

You wouldn't call it confusing, so much as a fascinating riddle to resolve, with dark humour; a keen sense of relationship politics; Ted Hughes and W B Yeats riparian poetry; off-stage singing, and the omnipresent power of the river and nature.

Love's well-directed cast are all terrific: Stagnell's The Man cannot be read like a book, Morley is a peach at comic timing, more emotional and deeper thinking; Rogers' Other Woman, in a riotous red party dress, is a free-spirited loose cannon.

In a nutshell, The Man loves fishing, but not only for fish; he likes to spin a line to hook a woman, saying he loves them as his bait, but in turn they need to wriggle off the hook, before he starts making his flies all over again for the next fishing (mis)adventure.

The River, Wildgoose Theatre, Friargate Theatre, York, 3pm and 7.30pm today; 3pm tomorrow. Box office: Also Seven Arts, Leeds, on May 3 at 7.30pm; tickets at