That was July in London Theatre land with a bumper crop of announcements and thesp spots
Review: Ben Whishaw has been spoken to by God in Against, Almeida Theatre

Review: The Catastrophists, White Bear Theatre

The Catastrophists, White Bear Theatre

When Jack Stanley was writing The Catastrophists he couldn't have known that Donald Trump would have been threatening 'fire and fury' on North Korea but it certainly adds an edge to this play about a posh middle class couple having dinner with a couple from the commune next door that is preparing for the end of the world.

Raf (Elizabeth Donnelly) and Harry (Alexander Stutt) have bought a second home in the Cotswolds using money they inherited but, drunk one night, Harry pees on Claudia (Patsy Blower) and Peter's (Edmund Dehn's) yurt. Inviting them over to dinner is Raf and Harry's way of saying sorry.

It opens with an argument between Raf and Harry about whether they should serve crisps or flat bread and guacamole as pre dinner nibbles. Raf believes the latter shows effort, Harry, rather astonishingly given his character, has never heard of guacamole and champions crisps. Raf gets her way and then when their guests arrives full blown social awkwardness pursues - you know the overly insensitive comments that expose social stereotypes, that type of thing. Some in the audience chuckled away others were stony-faced.

Claudia and Peter are, initially, what you'd expect of two people who've dropped out of city jobs to live off the land in a commune but as the play progresses there is something not quite platonic about their ideals and ambitions for their community. We'll gloss over questions about what they actually live on given that they admit the soil isn't any good, they can't grow anything and they slaughtered the one pig they had several years ago. 

Loyalties switch, arguments ensue, motives are revealed. There are fisty cuffs, a goat is stolen and there may or may not have been an explosive ending. While there is promise in Jack Stanley's writing and Elizabeth Donnelly, regardless of what you think of the character, puts in a great comic performance, the play is neither witty enough or funny enough for a comedy. There is potential in the plot and its slightly sinister undertones and yet there are too many things that don't quite add up and plot devices that don't really go anywhere.

There are some interesting questions in there about our priorities as a society which don't get properly explored and perhaps what stays with you most is, given the North Korea situation, questions about 'what would you do' should the red buttons get pressed. The Catastrophists has its moments but there aren't enough of them. It's approximately 90 minutes without an interval and is on at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington until August 26.