Two ways to do Shakespeare? Really?
Review: Longing at the Hampstead Theatre has a great set, not sure about the play

Review: A Time To Reap, Upstairs at the Royal Court

510x340.fitandcropI've been putting off writing about this play by young Polish playwright Anna Wakulik mainly because it's taken a while to digest it.

At its heart is the Catholic church and Poland's relationship with it, centred on the country's banning of abortion in 1993. We follow the lives of three Poles, Marysia (Sinead Matthews) who lives in a small village and, as a child, meets Piotr (Max Bennett) and his father Jan (Owen Teale) when they are visiting from Warsaw. 

Wakulik attempts to expose the hypocrisy of church and state. Marysia has a relationship with a Catholic priest and gets pregnant. Jan is a gynecologist who makes a lot of money on the side performing illegal abortions but when he strikes up a long term relationship with Marysia he won't divorce his estranged wife or even live with her.

Piotr, being a boy, seems to be able to do as he pleases and takes no responsibility for his actions. When he gets Marysia pregnant he wants nothing to do with the pregnancy other than trying to persuade his father to do an abortion and Jan, despite his illicit work practices equally turns his back.

And this all makes for a compelling, almost tragic piece with quite a strong feminist message, or so it felt to me. Where the play falls down, and bearing in mind that Wakulik is only in her early 20s, is the lack of depth of some of characters. Piotr claims to be bi-sexual but this is never explored or explained and therefore feels like a redundant characteristic to give him.

The relationships aren't fully explained or explored and sometimes feel like an elaborate plot contrivance through which to examine the issues surrounding abortion, state and church.

That said it is still a meaty piece and I'll be watching out to see how Wakulik's writing matures.

A Time To Reap runs at the Royal Court upstairs until Saturday 23 March.

Recently seen:

Trelawny of the Wells, Donmar Warehouse

If You Don't Lets Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep, Royal Court downstairs

Great Expectations, Vaudeville Theatre

Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios


Max Bennett was in Posh with Joshua Maguire who appeared in The Hour with Mr W