Written in 2018, Jonathan Spector’s play is ready within the acquainted territory of the tradition wars, mentioned Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. In a major faculty in California, a gaggle of progressive mother and father have gathered to debate an outbreak of mumps – driving the plot in the direction of a conflict over the MMR jab.
The committee is led by Don (Mark McKinney), an “irritant” who’s much less a “advantage signaller than a human semaphore”, however the actual energy within the group resides with Suzanne (the US display star Helen Hunt), who “talks fuzzily about group and consensus” whereas truly being deeply controlling – and who finally ends up at loggerheads with Carina (Susan Kelechi Watson), the primary black girl on the committee.
The night begins with a volley of well-polished satirical potshots aimed on the liberal Left, by way of these slightly “flatly drawn” entitled mother and father, however this onslaught then provides strategy to “earnest debates on social justice, vaccination and the pull of conspiracy principle”.
It is a “sharp comedy” – and a “bracing corrective to the concept which you can solely focus on severe points with a straight face”, mentioned Sarah Crompton on What’s on Stage. The satire is “broad however completely calibrated; the writing fiercely correct”.
One central scene is especially properly staged by director Katy Rudd. To defuse the brewing disaster, the board members determine to conduct a “Group Activated Dialog” over Zoom, whereas feedback from (unseen) mother and father unfurl on the set above their heads. Inevitably, it collapses right into a melee – with profanities and accusations of fascism – and within the theatre, the viewers is decreased to “helpless laughter”.
The present is a palpable hit, mentioned Dominic Cavendish in The Each day Telegraph – and the Previous Vic’s resolution to stage it’s a welcome signal that British theatre is “awake to the ludicrous – and in addition pernicious – facet of woke”. But the dramatic stakes for these concerned are inadequate to ship the mandatory heft.
It’s a humorous and perceptive play, however not a “daring” one, agreed Andrzej Lukowski on Time Out. It’s “pleasing”, however “barely irritating”.
The Previous Vic, London SE1. Till 31 October