What’s it all about?
This is the world championship of pissing contests, power games and sexual politics.
A quartet of chaps, who sit somewhere around Piers Morgan on the dislikeable scale, vie for supremacy. When their brother/son/nephew returns with his wife of six years, the rules change but the games go on… with a brand new player.
Who’s in it?
This is a Jamie Lloyd production, so the casting is exquisite.
West End stalwart Ron Cook leads the household as the aging, stick-wielding Max, desperately trying to cling to his patriarchal power, as time loosens his grip, like a climber with mere fingertips on a precipice.
John Simm is menace personified as middle son Lenny, a master of passive aggression, active aggression and any other type of aggression you care to throw in.
Gemma Chan brings a coldness, dislocation and sense of utter sadness to sole female Ruth, who seems simultaneously to seize power and be used at everyone’s whim.
What should I look out for?
The simple funnelled set of Soutra Gilmour, the red frames of which evoke a boxing ring; the flickering bulbs and red washes of Richard Howell’s lighting design; and the rumbles, blasts and musical surges of George Dennis’ sound design. Lloyd works his alchemy to bring all together to create the perfect potent atmosphere of awkwardness, antagonism, anger and testosterone-fuelled combat.
Who was in the press night crowd?
Game Of Thrones fans would have been excited to see Alfie Allen in to support his dad, who brings an understated camp and quiet intelligence to Sam – sister Lily was just up the road at the British Fashion Awards – along with Jamie Lloyd season alumnus Indira Varma, Nigel Harman, Ben Miller, Martin Freeman and Tamzin Outhwaite.
In a nutshell?
Jamie Lloyd returns with two hours of the most deliciously dark, wickedly witty, power-wrestling drama you’ll see on the stage.
What’s being said on Twitter?
— Nathan Amzi (@theamzi) November 20, 2015
— Ben Miller (@ActualBenMiller) November 24, 2015
Will I like it?
Do you like your drama darker and more chilling than a lonely winter’s night on a secluded hill with only thoughts of childhood trauma for company? Then this is for you.
With hints of past abuse added to Pinter’s robust sexual and familial politics, Lloyd has found new directions of pitch black horror in which to lead the play. As ever, he has achieved it with striking panache.