Old Vic, London, until October 31
This must be dispiriting for the cast of Eureka Day, but the funniest scene in the play requires the punters to look up at a succession of chat messages being projected into the rafters of the theatre.
They’re frantically tapped out by a group of parents involved in a virtual
meeting with the seemingly ultraprogressive management board of a
California school. Before long it degenerates into four-letter words, references to Hitler and shocked emojis.
This is an intermittently funny, if cynical, work which I’m not sure I like all that much. I don’t deny there’s a lot about determinedly right-on people that
invites ridicule, and the playwright Jonathan Spector accepts the invitation with relish. Gender-neutral terminology, horror of anti-vaxxers, compulsive
hugging, straining at all times never to offend are all in his sights. They are to some extent embodied in the character of Don – the committee chair played by Mark McKinney, who likes to hear everyone out, but mostly himself.
Spector has fun suggesting his committee is mostly engaged in hypocritical nonsense – Susan Kelechi Watson as the first black woman to sit on it is patronisingly told from time to time by her white fellow members what it’s like to be a black woman – and the other characters are all PC Aunt Sallies.
The real problem with Katy Rudd’s production is that it can’t offer an
alternative modus vivendi. Don and co might often be absurd, but straining not to be offensive is, I would suggest, an improvement on straining to be offensive.