The Royal Court's artistic director Vicky Featherstone and playwright/director Anthony Neilson made a pre-performance appearance when I saw Unreachable on Tuesday. They wanted to explain that the play was still a work in progress, a major rewrite had happened over the weekend with further rewrites that day. As a result, the actors might still be working off scripts and things might not go as smoothly as you'd expect. We were asked to shout 'good luck' to the actors who were waiting in the wings.
Other than a read-through I've not seen a play performed with scripts in hands or scraps of paper retrieved from pockets. Naturally, the audience was very supportive as it invariably is during these sorts of things. It added an extra dimension to the play and the experience - seeing the actors 'feeling' their way through the less familiar parts of the script.
Matt Smith actually played on it at times saying at one point 'that's all I've got'. If there was any frustration with the chopping and changing of the dialogue among the cast it certainly didn't show, they all looked like they were having a ball and there was quite a bit of corpsing.
As to the play itself, I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't expecting a raucous comedy, satirising the film industry and acting profession.
Naturally, it is difficult to review something that could change fundamentally between when I saw it and press night. Indeed, since starting to write this, I found an interview with Anthony Neilson and Matt Smith which describes a plot that is unrecognisable from that which I saw, so if you have seen it post press night I'm curious to know whether it has changed fundamentally since.
Matt Smith plays Maxim, a film director who won the Palm d'Or for his first full-length feature and is now working on his second film. The award has brought with it recognition and a much bigger budget with the politics that entails but he is 'an artist' with the stereotypical artistic temperament (think: self-serving, childish, egotist). He would rather walk away and risk financial ruin than compromise.