This is a grown-up play. It is a play for today. It is funny, it is wise and the performances are a masterclass in theatre.
Kris Marshall as Theodore and Eve Ponsonby as Charlotte are stunning in this fast-paced, hard-argued, gripping two-hander which relies on authority as well as immaculate comic timing.
Ryan Craig’s new play, crisply directed by award-winner Terry Johnson, has academics Lottie and Teddy tearing each other apart in the culture wars.
When we first meet them they are married with two young children. Flying off to a conference, she reminds him to limit their four-year-old son’s time on the iPad. There is a problem Teddy confesses as Lottie is about to pick up her laptop bag.
Their son Jack has been waving his penis around in class. He tells the teacher: “It’s my social construct.” That’s what having two parents in a university philosophy department does.
We see the couple back and forth over a decade. In an early scene, spirited, forceful and charming, Charlotte talks her way into a job as his research assistant.
In another she is bitterly disappointed that the university has banned a right-wing speaker, she was looking forward to demolishing him in argument – leaving him bleeding on the floor.
She says it’s a matter of free speech. But free speech can never be absolute, Theodore says. We must adapt our thinking and limit our freedoms.
All through the play, each argues a separate case. At times they reverse platforms – but each time so fine is the writing that always – they are both right. Nobody loses, nobody wins.
Or do they? As her career overtakes his, she – razor sharp in mind and dress – is better at manoeuvring round the intellectual fashions of the day.
He is lost in all the righteousness. He goes to a workshop where the students demand waving instead of clapping and each announces their preferred pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them).
He is mortified at their uniformity, at their insistence. “How can you encourage diversity with all this conformity?” he cries.
But then again, if we are to change thousands of years of convention, don’t we need to do it with strength? We don’t have to decide.
All we have to do is revel in a hugely entertaining evening at the theatre, seeing a rivetingly accomplished pair of actors perform a refreshing new work, written for us and written for now.
The audience held its breath.
Can you help us?
While you’re here, we are asking, for the first time, for readers to support us financially by taking out a modest subscription.
£2, or £3 or even £5 will help us achieve our goals. It will mean the second year of CambsNews will be livelier, healthier, and much better placed to cover the important issues affecting our everyday lives.
Your subscription simply means we can provide and expand our news FREE to all readers (Read More)Will you help us? Simply click the link below to make a donation.