His new 75 minute play – part satire, part rather heavy-handed polemic – boasts some topical gibes and some witty lines, but is too didactic to completely succeed as drama.
A cast of eight plays over twenty characters including the group of pinstriped suits who propose monetising social behaviour in order to eradicate a culture of dependency – and, of course, make a profit.
Their privatisation policy leads to hospital staff refusing to treat a retired nurse with an injured arm (the quickest way to cut waiting lists is to keep people off them) and a possibly innocent first time offender on his way to university being coerced into pleading guilty (with the promise of a glowing reference on leaving jail, recidivism rates will tumble).
The second part takes place in a dilapidated courtroom where a group of protestors intend putting current capitalist systems on trial and various characters from the first section reappear, including Lucian Msamati’s knifed African immigrant McDonald, now with the power of an unwelcome Health and Safety inspector.
But though Lustgarten’s arguments are heartfelt his characters are, too often, merely mouthpieces, which makes it only fitfully possible to really engage with Simon Godwin’s appropriately austere production.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube || Sloane Square
Until 9th March
£10 – £28