Headlong’s unnerving co-production (directed with fluid verve by Jeremy Herrin and with a stunning design by Es Devlin which switches seamlessly from the real to the futuristic Nether thanks to Luke Halls’ video contributions) deals with issues which have hit the headlines far too frequently recently, but adds another dimension.
Successful businessman Sims (an avuncular but subtly unsettling Stanley Townsend) is being interrogated by a young female detective (intense Amanda Hale) about the Hideaway, a lucrative virtual location he has created in the Nether where prepubescent, ringletted Iris in her innocent Victorian dress calls him Papa and is there to please the guests who log in again and again, to satisfy their illegal and often violent proclivities.
Sims maintains he’s taken responsibility for his own sickness, developing a sensory, ever-continuing haven where paedophiles can find gratification without consequences. But it’s never that simple (as David Beames’ messed up teacher has come to realise) and, in less than 80 minutes, Haley’s deservedly award-winning imagining of a possible future takes the possibilities – and dangers – of role-play to a whole new level.
When: Until August 9
Where: Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tickets cost £10 – £32. Click here to book
Image credit: Johan Persson