The Theatreguide.London Review
Royal Court Theatre Spring 2011
Stephens' play is actually three entirely separate stories, loosely
connected by their all taking place somewhere near Heathrow Airport and
by each including a passing mention of one of the characters from the
others, suggesting that these people are vaguely related.
But that is just window dressing, and has the feel of being added to three independently-written scripts as an afterthought to justify playing them together.
What they do have in common is someone's discovery that an experience they thought they were prepared for is more emotionally complicated than they realised - but of course that's a loose enough definition to cover every drama since Oedipus.
So the evening doesn't really hang together, and the three pieces are best appreciated as independent thirty-minute plays.
In the first, a foster mother and her adult 'son' prepare for his departure, a separation that not surprisingly affects her more than it does the young man.
fragile, somewhat underwritten piece, but its quiet picture of a small
person's small but real-to-her pain grows on you, helped by the
sensitive performances of Tom Sturridge and particularly Linda Bassett.
The second play, about a couple meeting for a spot of adultery at an airport hotel, has some of the air of a Martin McDonagh black comedy of excess, as she feels the need to tell him progressively darker things about her past, almost but not quite scaring him off.
McInnes has the flashier role, it is Paul Ready who carries the
half-hour as the guy torn between the impulse to get the hell out of
there and the realisation that her bizarre stories are turning him on.
The last piece is the least successful, as a man adopting a foreign child on the black market is gratuitously and sadistically tormented by one of the traffickers, just because she knows he needs her too much to resist.
Aside from its
being an unpleasant process to watch, all the efforts of Angus Wright
and Amanda Hale are unable to make the situation or either character
Katie Mitchell's direction, most successful with the subtleties of the first playlet, is progressively less able to establish and sustain a sense of reality in the others.
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