Review - B at the Royal Court
Last year the Royal Court produced a play called X, about which I wrote at the time, "One thing I can say for it: the play's title provides its own star rating." Now the same theatre, clearly determined to soldier on through the remaining letters of the alphabet, has a new play called B. (Perhaps a little Off-Broadway called A... My Name is Alice could be next).
And I'm afraid my star rating has gone no higher than it did for X. This is a mercifully brief play -- it runs for just 80 minutes, though it feels much longer -- in which two young idealistic women plan a bomb attack, and the man who joins them in the plot.
But despite the high stakes of the drama, it's remarkable how little dramatic tension is raised here. Just three bungling terrorists, whose motives aren't very clear, arguing over strategies and plans. And given the current state of the world, with London too recently under terrorism attack, it feels more than a little tasteless to be watching a play in which plans that could result in death and mayhem are being so gratuitously discussed.
Hard though it is to ever to justify the potential taking of innocent lives, there's not even a solid moral undermining to what they hope to achieve.
Of the cast of four, the three protagonists spend a big chunk of the play with their faces masked to each other and us, which makes their acting a whole lot more interesting to watch, while also being forced to look at an ugly set suspended amongst scaffolding poles that have replaced the traditional stage.
A really tedious play, tediously staged.