(seen at the afternoon performance on 2nd October 2019). One
surprisingly nifty little political thriller. The sort of novella that your
favourite author turns out on a whim, and turns out to be a real page-tuner that
you are going to finish in a single evening because it is only 150 pages long.
And you do, and feel pleased with both yourself and the writer afterwards.
That's this play in a nutshell. An unused meeting room in a hotel, the wives
of two powerful world political leader, and occasional visits from aides and
hotel staff. Every entrance brings new and conflicting information, and the
truth is never really defined - but in a subtle fashion that rewards rather than
irritates this monkey's intellect at least.
The central performances from both Zoe Wanamaker (Helen) and Zrinka Cvitesic
(Sophia) are stonking. Wanamaker is every inch the career woman knowing her
age is against her. Cvitesic reveals a model past and laser-intellect - and
gains extra credit for fine work even from inside some sort of potato sack
designer Anna Fleischle wittily conjures up as a critique of haute couture.
Supporting work is equally fine. Maid Raghad Chaar (Fatima) sparkles in a
tiny role. American Presidential Aide Lorna Brown (Sandy) gets a corker of a
speech, delivered with feeling. As Georges, Yoli Fuller manages odious without
unctuous, a sound balancing-act.
Nancy Harris manages to explore the dominance of patriarchy without the type
of shrill misandry that repels many. Certainly crimes are committed (often
knowingly) but equally shades within the female characters redress the scales
and in doing so highlight to perfection the vulnerabilities of women in a world
Nicholas Hytner keeps it all ticking along until the final 20 minutes, when
he stamps on the gas and follows Grant Olding's music to bring things to an
ending which is as logical as it is unexpected. Given some recent plays, this is
far more than most manage, and another reason to give these two women the time