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Dealing With Clair

“Fascinating, but flawed”

Martin Crimp’s 1988 play Dealing With Clair is, in some ways, more relevant than ever in 2018. In others, it’s awkwardly old-fashioned.

A six-hander, it revolves around the sale of a salubrious family home somewhere in London. Mike and Liz are selling. James is buying. Clair is their estate agent. The stakes, and the sale price, start climbing: £675,000, £750,000, £800,000.

It is pretty much classic Crimp. Weighted, weirdly emphasised dialogue. Snatches of conversation repeating themselves again and again. Heavy symbolism. A noticeable but nebulous undercurrent of violence permeating the whole play.

All of that is handled really well by Richard Twyman, staged compellingly by Fly Davis in a translucent white box, and performed with precision by a classy cast. A menacing Tom Mothersdale – fantastic in John at the National, fantastic in The Woods at the Royal Court, fantastic again here – is in a particularly purple patch.

The result, a nauseating exposure of the selfishness, cynicism and cruelty inherent in house-buying, is particularly potent today with zero-hour contracts, Generation Rent, and spiralling numbers of homeless deaths.

But despite this contemporary pertinence, there’s still something slightly anachronistic about Dealing With Clair. This kind of play is a bit old-hat now.

The oblique, ominous banter is delectable to begin with, but quickly wears thin, and the thinly veiled misogyny that spills, unchallenged, from the male characters – the play almost revels in it – is seriously questionable.

Related to this Review


Production Details
Production nameDealing With Clair
VenueOrange Tree Theatre
StartsOctober 26, 2018
EndsDecember 1, 2018
Running time1hr 45mins
AuthorMartin Crimp
DirectorRichard Twyman
Set designerFly Davis
Lighting designerJoshua Carr
Sound designerAlexandra Faye Braithwaite
CastGabriel Akuwudike, Hara Yannas, Lizzy Watts, Michael Gould, Roseanna Frascona, Tom Mothersdale
Stage managerEmma Rangel, Robert Perkins
ProducerEnglish Theatre, Orange Tree Theatre
VerdictSuperbly produced revival of Martin Crimp’s fascinating but flawed play
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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