Don DeLillo is best known for his sprawling novels Underworld and Americana, big books in every sense, so it comes as little surprise that his writing for the stage is equally complex and ambitious.
When businessman Michael Majeski gets on the wrong plane and ends up in Valparaiso, Chile instead of Valparaiso, Indiana, his misadventure causes a media sensation. Journalists flock to record his every word and gradually his entire life becomes public property, camera fodder. The play’s satirical targets are hardly original but the same can’t be said of DeLillo’s language which, with its heavy use of repetition and rhyme, is frequently poetic, often amusing and occasionally absurd.
Directing the play’s London premiere, Jack McNamara draws strong performances from his cast - Stephen Chance is compelling as the unfortunate Majeski and Camilla Simson, clad in vile maroon satin, makes a wonderfully icy chat show host.
The production is also technically excellent. Vali Mahlouji’s set, a mixture of soft black leather and hard white lines, is coolly anonymous and Jack C Arnold’s canvas of between-scene white noise and electronic feedback adds to the feeling of dislocation. But though impressive on many levels, the production lacks impact - DeLillo’s overly-wordy play remains frustratingly caught between the page and the stage.