Bathsheba Doran explores the thorny subject of parenting in her 2010 short play Parents’ Evening, receiving its European premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre.
As a Mother and Father prepare for parents’ evening at their daughter’s school, they express concern about her mildly erratic behaviour. Between them, they attempt to resolve the issues but are completely unprepared for the criticism they’re about to face from her teacher and the suggestion that a visit from social services might be necessary.
Doran’s play soon reveals itself to be just as much about the fractured relationship between the Mother and Father. But it’s difficult to feel empathy for either of them as they are so wound up in their own worlds.
Amy Marston’s Mother comes off best, addressing the criticisms levelled at her with shock and a stoic need for resolution. Peter Hamilton Dyer’s role as the Father is a good deal more challenging. He plays an intensely frustrating, if astutely observed, character, so utterly childish and steeped in petty jealousies that it beggars belief why the pair of them had children in the first place.
Doran’s play holds up a mirror to the middle classes and paints an ugly picture of two self-serving individuals masquerading as a happy family unit. There are a few muted laughs along the way but though Stella Powell-Jones’ production is efficient it seems strangely hollow, a quality further emphasised by Charlotte Espiner’s sterile bedroom set.