Especially when you call his brother after the president’s killer. So it goes with Lincoln and Booth, the street-smart siblings for whom destiny deals a cruel but familiar hand in Suzan-Lori Parks’s ghetto-blast of a play. Both men are hustling through life, with Booth’s sights set on becoming a street corner card-sharp like Lincoln used to be.

But Lincoln is playing it straight now, all whitied up as a theme park version of his namesake. Forced to share Booth’s low-rent dive now he’s been kicked out of his own apartment, Lincoln has clearly lost his mojo, while Booth is packing heat at every level.

It’s not hard to see why Parks’s play, first presented at New York’s Public Theatre, scooped the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The chewily poetic dialogue rolls its way into life with a vivid ferocity born of the easy banter of intimates. What looks initially like Waiting for Godot in Da ’Hood ends up closer to David Mamet territory, as the pair gamble on anything to help get them through the night, be it a shiny suit, a hot date or something more serious.

As Lincoln and Booth, Nicholas Pinnock and Tyronne Lewis bounce off each other with a relentlessly disciplined dynamism, relishing every sleight of hand and trump card played. The pair never sit still for a minute in Leann O’Kasi’s claustrophobic little production, which transforms the Citz’s Circle Studio into a dingy one-bed arena. The inevitable ending is brutal and abrupt in a high-stakes scenario worth holding out for.

Star rating: ****