Review: Great Expectations at the Vaudeville Theatre
Review: Joe Wright's Trelawny of the Wells at the Donmar Warehouse

Review: If You Don't Let Us Dream We Won't Let You Sleep at the Royal Court

Molony2_2487160cWhen the playwright lists past works with titles such as Socialism Is Great and Capitalism: A Lecture Series you kind of get an inkling about the direction a new play about the current financial issues is going to take. 

Anders Lustgarten's If You Don't Let Us Dream...  starts out with a series of short scenes linked loosely by a narrative which takes free market principles and capitalism to its extreme. Social disorder is effectively privatised and sold off as bonds. The lower the crime rates the more money is made by investors until the bankers realise they can make more money by hedging on crime going up.

The scheme is such a success generating capital too for the government that more and more is privatised to the point that measures and targets in hospitals and prisons dehumanise those they serve.

Several characters have threads running through the scenes culminating in a final lengthier segment where they come together as a protest group, occupying a disused court house. The group is planning to put capitalism on trial as a publicity stunt.

This is a lean production; a stripped back stage with props, costumes and odd bits of furniture all on view around the edges, brought into use by the actors when needed. It also has a refreshingly lean running time of 75 minutes.

Lustgarten script has a nicely, fluid, natural dialogue in the main, sometimes it is challenging - there is one particularly uncomfortable scene with a group of young men being racially abusive to a black barman.  Lustgarten has also been busy with last minute edits putting in references to horse meat and Starbucks' tax affairs which drew laughs from the audience.

He's certainly done his homework and writes a compelling and damning case but stepping back from the tight, nicely paced and well-acted 75 minutes I couldn't help reflecting that it wasn't actually saying anything new or fresh. Unless you are a Daily Mail reader, I don't think you are going to find anything particularly new or surprising in this.

Coming from the theatre that produced Enron it doesn't feel quite clever enough and neither does it feel quite challenging enough.

If You Don't Let Us Dream We Won't Let You Sleep runs at the Royal Court downstairs until March 9


Lucien Msamati was in Richard II and Susan Brown was in Brideshead Revisited.