Parents’ Evening, Jermyn St London, 3***: William Russell



by Bathsheba Doran.


Jermyn Street Theatre, 16B Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6SJ to 27 October 2018.

Mon- Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat

Runs 90 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 287 2835.

Review: William Russell 5 October.

The joys of parenthood dissected

Father is a writer in his late thirties of early forties suffering from writer’s block, Mother is the same age and is a lawyer aiming to make senior partner who suffers from an inability to keep things in order. They have a ten year old daughter Jessica who has a mind of her own, wants to learn to play the trumpet and has just beat him at Cluedo or some such parlour game. He is furious. She has also been reading books for children about sex which has upset the mother of one of her friends. He likes to smack her when she is naughty. Mother just faffs around. But at least they are agreed on one thing – no trumpet, maybe the piano.

To be quite honest ninety minutes in their company was more than enough although at the very end they do get round to doing what they should have done at least eight years before and set about giving the unseen Jessica a little brother or sister to help balance the family in fighting.

It is some time in the 1990s in an unspecified city. They are about to go to a parents’ evening at Jessica’s school in act one. In act two they have returned aghast at being told by the teachers that when asked why she was not achieving what she should in class the brat told them she never saw her mother. A social worker is coming to call.

X as Father and Y as Mother do what they can, which is quite a lot, with the roles but neither can make the pair likeable and one longs to see what the social worker would have made of them – not to mention Jessica’s rage at being taken away from the happy time she clearly has tormenting her ghastly parents.

The New York Times called it “perfectly wonderful” and “the finest new play of the season” and Ms Doran apparently has established a reputation there as one of the best playwrights of her generation winning all sorts of awards. She is a Londoner bred but her work is not known here so all hail to Jermyn Street for providing the chance to see the play but whatever it is perfectly wonderful are not the words to describe it.

Father: Peter Hamilton Dyer.

Mother: Amy Marston.

Director: Stella Powell-Jones.

Designer: Charlotte Espiner.

Lighting Designer: Will Reynolds.

Sound Designer: Yvonne Gilbert.

Production Photographer: Harry Livingstone.


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