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Zinnie Harris’s new play starts promisingly with the morning after the night before – a passionate encounter following a casual pick up.

But Dana and Jarron have different agendas – she wants it to last while he’s a pay and go kind of bloke. Except he’s so much more than that, and you’d really think Dana – the intelligent young woman that she is – would see the warning signs and head for the hills. He might be a globetrotting worker for the UN – but his semen is black and he tells her his soul has been ripped out of him.

She doesn’t give up easily, though, and her encounters across Europe with this self-proclaimed devil lead her further and further along the path to ruin as she travels (with her pregnant sister) to a job interview in Alexandria. There’s a particularly memorable moment in Vicky Featherstone’s production when anonymous refugees – and Dana herself – try desperately not to slip into the sea.

A crop-haired Maxine Peake is always extremely watchable as the persistent “customer dynamics” expert Dana, who enlists the help of a ubiquitous librarian with an endless supply of self-help books for every situation.

Unfortunately, as Dana’s life spirals out of control, Harris’s allegorical account of a dystopian, financially collapsing Europe follows a similar trajectory - and you know you’re in trouble when a playwright resorts to spouting a long list of society’s ills instead of focusing on character and plot development.

 

Royal Court Theatre

Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS

Tube: Sloane Square

 www.royalcourttheatre.com

until 21st March  

£10—£32

 


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Theatre review: How to Hold Your Breath
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