WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2
WHERE: National Theatre
WHEN: 21/7, runs to 28/9
Broadchurch star Olivia Colman won’t be the first female Doctor Who and plays a woman called Jenny here who is pregnant but worried about the risk an ultrasound might pose to her unborn child.
- Read on for reasons including how this comedy will delight viewers of TV’s Big Bang Theory
Jenny’s sister Alice (Olivia Williams, terrifically watchable) is a scientist working on the Hadron Collider in Geneva who despairs at Jenny’s lack of education and common sense.
The pair’s mother (Amanda Boxer, the best thing about this) is a scientist who missed out on a Nobel at the hands of a sexist former husband and is on the cusp of a physical decline including possible Alzheimer’s.
Alice’s son Luke (a tortured Joseph Quinn) is struggling to negotiate his way through school in a foreign country and navigate his way through the complexities of social media.
Author Lucy Kirkwood combines many elements into a comedy/tragedy which hangs together well but never really ploughs the emotional depths that would mark it out as truly exceptional. There are a lot of science in-jokes which will please fans of Channel 4’s nerd comedy The Big Bang Theory.
In a week when it has been difficult to escape stories of gender pay inequality and sexist comments, it’s a pleasure to watch something created by a woman and predominantly starring them.
Director Rufus Norris stages it beautifully with a simple yet tremendously effective set that pulls off the remarkable trick of being able to transform from mesmerising hi-tech to glorious low-tech at the flip of a switch.
Colman deserves praise for taking on an initially unsympathetic role and it is to everyone’s credit that this enjoyable play never takes the turn dramatic one might expect.