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The title is intriguing, and Abi Morgan has a proven track record in film ('The Iron Lady') and television ('The Hour'), as well as having picked up a most promising playwright nomination at the beginning of her career.

But her latest venture - a stage interpretation based on the recently-published memoirs of a West Coast couple now aged 88 and 93 - is a dry, uninvolving affair (in all senses) with passion-killing dialogue which, for most people, would surely have signified an early end to their relationship.

Twice-divorced feminist teacher She and once-married businessman He (as in the book, no names are given) first met in grad school, but only began their affair after a chance encounter when they were both in their fifties. As an 'experiment', and to make herself more comfortable with the arrangement, she decides to formalise their meetings by drawing up a contract in which she promises to be his 'sexual property', always available 'unless indisposed or travelling' in exchange for financial reward and a home to live in. And she also wants to tape their meetings.

Somehow, over the course of almost thirty years from 1981 to 2010, their pact endures and grows as familiar intimacy and genuine concern develop over the decades.

But even at 90 minutes - and despite strong performances from Saskia Reeves (never content and in a succession of dowdy outfits) and Danny Webb (totally, touchingly convincing as a shuffling octogenarian) - this self-obsessed two-hander, directed by Vicky Featherstone, is as dry and unwelcoming as the giant cacti growing in the desert beyond the glass windows of her California residence.

When: Until March 22, 2014

Where: Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS

Ticket prices range from £10 - £32. To book, click here



Theatre: The Mistress Contract
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