There are three acts: the first long, expressing an enervatingly pointless world and ending in a sharp shock. The second is competitively cynical and rises to another kind of shock, the sort with disgust in it. The last is shorter still, offering a nicely vicious resolution.
It’s fun down in the Dorfman pit. Under exuberant African barbershop posters from Lagos, Harare, Accra – and London – a cast of barbers and customers-to be josh and wander, dance a few steps and accost the front row. Their territory is a mongrel assembly of garden chairs, sofas, much-used equipment, lanterns and one ancient generator.
This is a famously significant piece of theatre: created in 2003 in a Cornish field , it was one of the first successes of Emma Rice’s Kneehigh, precursor of wild successes like Brief Encounter, Rebecca and The Wild Bride. Her idiosyncratic, joyful style of course led her to her short-lived tenure in charge of the Globe.
I have a taste for plays about the years between the wars. The WW1 anniversary saw some fascinating contemporaneous ones, often at the Jermyn. There is rich material in it: the weight of grief, survivor-guilt, the shadow of the next war only 21 years later, and not least the new awareness and independence of women who had done tough wartime jobs.
Lost village girl Mary comes home to her beloved Laura after a lifetime of sin in “that devil-town London”, but finds – well – that’s the problem. This play by DC Moore, part lesbian Catherine Cookson fantasy, part undead horror slasher, via a Wicker Man of the woods and fields, isn’t actually about much at all.