Debbie Tucker Green’s play is as clean as a just-wiped knife. Barely over an hour long, it’s a spare thing.
A woman enters an office where she must decide the fate of the man who has harmed her in some unspecified but appallingly brutal and violent way. She has that power. She can choose what fate befalls him. She can select the means by which he will die: lethal injection, the gas chamber, the noose.
Part of a continuum of writing for the Royal Court – including Random and Truth and Reconciliation – the play is as much about omission as it is about what is spoken. Every silence carries weight; what goes unsaid is as potent as what is voiced. There is a lot of play with the idea of protocol here, with bureaucracy and euphemism.The first third of the play feels slightly superfluous compared to what comes after, and short as it is it could be shorter. But once it starts to explore its key themes, it becomes incredibly tensile, the kind of play where you find yourself, at the final blackout, holding your breath.
Claire Rushbrook and Shane Zaza grasp the hitches and rhythms of the text, as a pair of white-shirted officials, neither without compassion, but Marianne Jean-Baptiste is nothing less than astonishing in her unswervingness, in her damage, in the way she radiates. Though often silent, she creates a wall around her, of pain, and a palpable readiness to do what she feels must be done.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.