Last year, at this time, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany teamed up to create Let the Right One In, a vampire romance which was a big success for this venue and transferred to the West End. Now they return with a new play that looks at the more arcane subject of Labour Party politics in a northern town.
Faced with another round of cuts, Hilary and Mark, leaders of the Labour council, at first decide to co-operate. But the resistance of Gina, who runs a threatened day centre for adults with learning disabilities and is Mark's ex-wife, shows them that there is another option - even if it seems politically suicidal.
Thorne neatly weaves in personal material - Mark's girlfriend Julie, his son Jake and Julie's father the Old Labourite George - into a fable that suggests that although resistance may be doomed to failure, the desire for change can be handed down the generations.
At its best, Thorne's play dwells on his speciality, which is excruciating personal encounters between awkward individuals, and his play is realistic, humorous and entertaining for those like me who miss the state-of-the-nation plays of the 1970s. With several other characters, such as Laura from the day centre and Sarwan the Asian councillor, this has both an epic and a contemporary feel.
Tiffany's production, on Tom Scutt's council-office set, is fluid but a bit timid. At a couple of points, his cast - led by Paul Higgins, Stella Gonet and Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Mark, Hilary and Julie - perform some tantalising moves that look as if they might turn into a dance routine, but are then pulled back. Still, they get good support from Jo Eastwood Laura, Christine Entwisle Gina, Tom Georgeson George and Tommy Knight Jake.
- Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court, London
- November 26-January 10 2015, PN December 2
- Author: Jack Thorne
- Director: John Tiffany
- Design: Tom Scutt set, Chahine Yavroyan lighting, Carolyn Downing sound
- Technical: Sandra Maturana assistant director, Julia Horan casting, Tariq Rifaat production manager, Laura Draper stage manager
- Cast includes: Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jo Eastwood, Christine Entwisle, Tom Georgeson, Stella Gonet, Paul Higgins, Tommy Knight, Rudi Dharmalingam
- Producer: Royal Court
- Running time: 2hrs 20mins