Clare McIntyre's The Maths Tutor is a curious play and an unusual choice with which to launch Anthony Clark's debut as Artistic Director of Hampstead theatre. Twenty or thirty years ago it would have been genuinely unsettling, sexual ambivalence and a malicious accusation of sexual abuse at its core. But today, with underdeveloped characterisation and a lack of dramatic plausibility, the only reverberations it makes are shallow, most scenes feeling highly manufactured, exceptions being those between the two teenage boys JJ (Ben McKay) and Tom (Nicholas Figgis) which at least possess credibility.
Jane(Tricia Kelly) and Paul (Christopher Ravenscroft) are Tom's parents, a couple whose cosy domesticity is swiftly revealed to be deeply ambivalent whilst JJ's mother Anna (Sally Dexter) is a stressed-out single mum, an estate agent whose congeniality is reserved strictly for her clients. Annoyed by his maths tutor Brian (Martin Wenner) and determined to gain some parental attention, JJ makes a false accusation of abuse against his tutor, a decision that has consequences for everyone.
Patrick Connellan's strange, rectangular set only makes the drama encased within it seem emphatically fractured and a lack of conviction, particularly in terms of the script, makes it hard to fully engage with the play. Let's hope there are better and brighter things ahead this season.