WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE? Trafalgar Studios RUNTIME: 100 minutes (without interval)
WHEN? 23/3, runs to 25/5 and then tours UK until 22/6/19
A scorecard encouraging the audience to ‘Check your privilege’ is handed out by theatre staff at the show’s close.
- Read on for reasons including when Kingston last appeared on stage in the West End
It’s the logical conclusion to an evening where we meet Sherri Rosen-Mason, played by Alex Kingston, a Head of Admissions whose goal is to increase diversity at the exclusive American school where she works with her husband.
Ben Edelman transferred from the original off-Broadway production of the show which opened last year and the drama centres around his failure to make it to Yale and the perceived discrimination he suffers when judged against a black candidate who ticks more politically correct boxes.
Sarah Hadland (who we reviewed in The Way Of The World at the Donmar last year) plays the mother of the successful candidate who is Sherri’s best friend and the drama is at its strongest when the 2 clash swords over the results of their respective sons’ Yale applications.
Edelman is strong as Sherri’s son Charlie Luther Mason and he lands some interesting points about white privilege and the hypocrisy of his mother who is prepared to pull every string she can to get him the education she thinks he deserves.
It’s easy to see why this play was such a hit in the US, where it was garlanded with awards last year, because it touches a nerve and remains a very topical issue.
Kingston, best known for TV roles in ER and as River Song in Doctor Who, played opposite Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in the West End in 2006 and most recently starred on the stage in Macbeth opposite Kenneth Branagh in the Manchester International Festival.
We’d love to see more of her in the theatre and she’s believable here as the liberal mother whose work is called into question because of her devotion to her son.
Author Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews) has created an interesting play that is unafraid to ask awkward questions which makes for a thoughtful if not especially thrilling evening.