by D C Moore.
The Mailcoach To 13 March 2010.
Runs 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 March.
Complexities of the best policy.
Early evenings, round the corner from the Royal and Derngate, it’s possible to spend three-quarters of an hour in The Mailcoach Pub – which on Tuesday at least provided atmosphere with an inebriated heckler – watching Dave down his pint and listening as he recounts his problems with speaking the truth.
Back from his London civil service job (there’s both metropolitan feel and personnel here – playwright D C Moore and director Mike Bartlett are Royal Court writers), Dave settles at a table, to tell the audience of fellow-drinkers about the dishonesties he experiences, first in speaking to his nephew Ben (honesty not being the best policy when trying to encourage a child).
But it’s when he gets on to his expansion of the Peter Principle in a government department, he really gets going. The Department’s very name is high-sounding gobbledygook for the blindingly obvious, if not downright meaningless, and the slight separation of its initials with which Dave imparts venereal innuendo is so natural–sounding it’s clearly gone beyond a joke to become part of his outlook on life.
There’s a lot of anger, and comedy, in the way managerial self-interest sustains incompetence, and in the mix of ignorance and indifference surrounding simple mistakes. But things grow more serious when Dave describes his sudden-impulse night-time quest through South London to see young Ben (a name shared with one of his incompetent colleagues), seeking to face up to moral responsibility.
Director Mike Bartlett’s own plays have engendered environmental productions at the Court, and this seems a logical equivalent in his work as director. Seated in his suit and tie, Thomas Morrison looks like a member of the crowd which might be seen in or around any business-area pub. Except he’s alone and disenchanted, switched-off from the idiocy and imbecility of it all, something Morrison’s Dave expresses with a mix of calm and obscenity-tinged frustration.
He might be one of the crowd, but he’s bright enough to be upset by the inanities of others. And this little journey outside is another sign of the adventurous theatrical spirit current at the Royal and Derngate.
Dave: Thomas Morrison.
Director: Mike Bartlett.