Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'An Intervention' by Mike Bartlett

22 April 2014

I worried a little when I discovered that Mike Bartlett's new play 'An Intervention', which we saw at Watford Palace Theatre last Saturday, runs without an interval, takes place mostly in front of curtains (“like Morecambe and Wise or Abbott and Costello”) and has just two characters, designated 'A' and 'B' – who “can be played by actors of any age, gender or ethnicity”. But 'An Intervention' is a very accessible, clever and impressive piece of theatre. It's a funny, thought-provoking and disturbing two-hander – excellently acted by Rachael Stirling and John Hollingworth in a Paines Plough and Watford Palace Theatre production, directed by James Grieve. We last saw Rachael Stirling in Mike Bartlett’s contemporary version of ‘Medea', also at Watford Palace Theatre (reviewed here in November 2012), and she is a wonderful stage actor. 'An Intervention' looks at what happens when you hate your best friend. Can friendship survive when one of you supports the proposed military intervention in a Middle East conflict and the other is on the anti-war protest? And how much of the ensuing argument is really personal rather than political? Mike Bartlett's play has plenty of dark humour and a contemporary everyday ordinariness that reminded me of Patrick Marber's 'Closer', but it is a serious work that looks at its themes in a very theatrical way. Intriguing and entertaining – an excellent production.

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