IF YOU WON’T LET US DREAM WE WON’T LET YOU SLEEP
by Anders Lustgarten.
Royal Court (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 9 March 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 7 March 2.30pm.
Audio-described 2 March 2.30pm.
Captioned 6 March.
Post-show Talk 5 March.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 February.
Look around in anger.
Anders Lustgarten skewers Coalition England, striking at this government’s fundamental social engineering: the abolition of any sense of a ‘public’, let alone ‘public services’. From the start, in scenes which hang semi-independently, Lustgarten hits at the privatisation of humanity, by an innocent chocolate manufacturer who doesn’t get the big project or the hedge-find manager who manipulates it.
When public services become private enterprises they operate for maximised profit, the ‘market’s sole responsibility. An imprisoned youth is told to plead guilty then threatened about reoffending, to show a fall in convictions and help towards healthy profits. If there’s no fall, hedge your bet on offences rising. People and the crime rate sit, unimportant, below the bottom line.
The financiers, and a government minister headed towards a lucrative job with them, luxuriate in Austerity. However distasteful the work, like fixing a debt-tax meter in the home of a retired nurse, someone will do it rather than be unemployed.
Going to hospital as a patient, former nurse Joan is rejected as not meeting the criteria for treatment by the private company now running the place with harried volunteer labour.
The instilling of divisions by a rich elite who let the rest quarrel among themselves recalls Bertolt Brecht’s point in The Roundheads and the Pointed Heads. But Lustgarten might have thought more about his anger. Joan quotes the state pension as her sole income; after 42 years as a nurse, she’d surely have an occupational pension. Small though it might be, it should be included.
And the anti-Black racism shown isn’t the clearest example of how Austerity divides people, being created less by the current political climate than are attacks on asylum-seekers, East Europeans, unemployed or disabled people.
Eventually the scattergun attack lets up to show a measure of resistance. That’s always the difficult part. And a criticism of the public meeting being planned, that it’s speaking to the converted, could be said of this play being staged at the Royal Court. Whatever the limitations, though, it has an immediacy and informative starkness, captured by the skilled cast in Simon Godwin’s swift, uncomfortable production.
Joan: Susan Brown.
Thacker/Thomas/Ross: Ben Dilloway.
Lucinda/Kelly/Nurse/Teacher 2: Laura Elphinstone.
Ryan: Daniel Kendrick.
Workman/Jason/Ray: Damien Molony.
Taylor/McDonald Moyo: Lucian Msamati.
James Asset-Smith/Zebedee: Ferdy Roberts.
Karen McLean/Administrator/Teacher 1/Jen: Meera Syal.
Director: Simon Godwin.
Design: Lucy Sierra.
Lighting: Jack Williams.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Assistant director: Ned Bennett.
Associate sound: Joel Price.