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Though many are over in not much more than the blink of an eye, the 50+ short scenes which comprise Caryl Churchill’s tantalising new play are packed with resonance and more than a hint of backstory.

In 100 minutes this still innovative playwright (she’s in her 70’s and has been writing for the Royal Court for decades) lets us eavesdrop on mainly private exchanges between a host of unnamed characters  (predominantly in pairs) caught at moments of varying significance – or just hanging out together.

Some are funny, some are sad, almost all of them work.

Played out within the anonymously sterile confines of a white-tiled cube (and separated by swift blackouts accompanied by scene-setting sound effects) each is named – Torture, Dinner, God, Earthquake, Virtual, Affair for example – and split into one of 7 unnamed sections (the rationale of which still eludes me).

Just one subject, Depression in its various non-communicative forms, appears in each grouping - a man sits in the waiting room at the vet clutching a cat carrier, unable to respond to the person in the next seat;  a woman sits staring blankly at the suggestion of reading a bedtime story.

Aided by the not inconsiderable input of costume designer Laura Hopkins (each contemporary outfit carefully chosen) director James MacDonald works wonders with the sparse script, fleshing out these fragmentary snippets of information to create a kaleidoscope of the modern world.

And in a strong and versatile cast of 16, Paul Jesson, Laura Elphinstone, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Rhashan Stone compete to steal the acting honours from Linda Bassett, Amanda Drew and John Heffernan.

 
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube | Sloane Square
Until 13th October
£10 - £28
royalcourttheatre.com


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