‘Stay single and drink doubles’ is the laconic advice of Bohemian anti-heroine, Her, in Joe White’s brave play about alcohol addiction.

Essentially a love story, Blackout Songs, uses alcohol-induced dementia to explore the misremembered details, revisions and conscious lies in one young couple's love story following their first encounter at an AA meeting.

The intelligent writing is skillfully directed by Guy Jones who communicates the play’s cautionary warning by foregrounding the pair’s chemistry and magic as grim reality chases the heels of these tenderly portrayed individuals.

White's story of struggling young artists drawn to booze to fuel their creativity and fill emotional voids plays on plenty of clichés: working class Him (Alex Austin) with his bleached hair and fallen angel charm is an art school student nursing the trauma of childhood illness. While posh-girl Her (Rebecca Humphries), deshabille in a faux fur coat, is older, with an absent daddy complex, living off her family inheritance.

She’s got a talent for poetry but prefers spinning yarns in Soho pubs. He’s on the way up in the uber-trendy art world, but is hopelessly shy with a stutter until he encounters the transformative power of her wit and wild imagination.Ham & High: Blackout Songs at Hampstead TheatreBlackout Songs at Hampstead Theatre (Image: Robert Day)

The two lose touch, then fall in love while trying to kick the booze. Layers in the writing keep unfurling so the truth about these characters and their pain ultimately feels bracingly raw and real. Both Austin and Humphries bring tremendous physical detail to their performances: his jerky limbs and bright eyes often heartbreakingly innocent, her restless agitation relaxing into seductive coltishness when she allows herself to trust.

Actual songs barely feature, but choreography between scenes evokes time ellipses or truncated events, while the dream-like fog of their minds sets the mesmerizing tone. A minimal set with community-hall chairs stacked either side is used literally and metaphorically.

White tries to play on memory loss and the bleak circularity of co-dependency with chopped up time-lines – the mystery of a tooth found in Her pocket keeps recurring, as does His neck brace - but the device is clumsily deployed.

At 95 minutes, it’s a giddy whirl through a woozy world but never at the expense of emotional intensity or compassion.

Blackout Songs runs at Hampstead Theatre until December 10. https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/