FLAT WHITE AND WOEFUL
If you’re going to splash out on a visually arresting finale of assassination, a vivId hearth destroying a Norman tower and a lyrical monologue about Lenin, it’s wisest to guide as much as these excitements with a play that arrests consideration. And, ideally, makes some sort of sense. This isn’t it.
Rory Mullarkey’s limp satire on the landowning, moneyed higher courses pimping their historic properties to Russian Oligarchs simply feels a bit determined, a sequence of random pictures at fish in a barrel. And the Royal Court shouldn’t do determined: it’s at its finest with zippy writing , sharp perspective, and a willingness to prod simple considering and cliché attitudes. Not when rolling over, in a hopeful Christmas season, to one thing billed as “uproarious” Wodehousian comedy, however which seems dismally sub-sitcom . There are solely uncommon flashes of impressed spite (the most effective one being in regards to the Standard Theatre Awards, which is area of interest however good).
It’s about an idle spendthrift younger Viscount (with a communist housekeeper,, ho ho) whose mom is attempting to promote the household fort to a Russian oligarch, whereas herself fleeing to South Korea together with her feminine accountant who doubles as lesbian lover and badminton companion (I loved the badminton at the beginning of Act 2 greater than the remainder of the present).
Of course the Viscount and his mates have a plot to derail the deal by dressing up as oligarchs and pretending they don’t need the fort: very sub-Wodehouse. The idly blokey obviousness of it’s irritating: communists are humorous, lesbians are humorous, Russian accents are humorous, Irish housekeepers referred to as Hanratty are humorous, so bung ’em in and name it comedy.
I suppose that this play was seen as a successor to 2010’s POSH (which I hated then for a cartoonish unfairness which on the time wasn’t completely deserved, although it’s got extra so since 2019). But a minimum of POSH was effectively structured and had a fairly good story, and one or two pretty rounded characters. It’s the flatness of those – regardless of the efforts of Fenella Woolgar and George Foreacres specifically – that makes the play principally so boring, regardless of a great solid.
The British love-hate fascination with the higher crust works finest when – as in Wodehouse or Coward or Wilde or certainly Jilly Cooper – you’re able, regardless of your amused jeering, to share a few of their human emotions. Here, you simply don’t. And they’re not that humorous both. It’s miserable, nd I respect the Royal Court – the writers’ theatre – an excessive amount of to not say so.
field workplace royalcourttheatre.com to 16 Dec