A sobering affair
As such, I won't allow my disappointing recent evening at the Royal Court to see the World Premiere (how expectation building can you get?) of Caryl Churchill's latest play, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You, cloud my judgement of new English theatre. Nor will I wax lyrical about all that was wrong with the 50 minute (and too long at that) show except to give you enough fodder pre-press night to keep you ahead of the season's gossip.
Amidst all the hype and secrecy Drunk Enough has commanded, the only information to come forth about the play's subject matter was a two-liner (as printed on the flyer): "Jack would do anything for Sam. Sam would do anything." Now, is it just me, or does that tagline in conjunction with the play's admittedly genius title, leave you hoping for a morally probing love story crossed with the answer to that never answered Meatloaf question of what that is in the song, "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)?
Well, cast hopes aside all ye who read here. What Churchill delivers instead is two characters - who you come to assume personify the US (Sam for Uncle Sam) & UK (Jack for Union Jack) who fall in love, and participate in a long list of nefarious political acts that the US and UK have committed over the years. And without criticism, the theatrical conceit of a homosexual relationship as a metaphor for the US & UK entente is absorbing to start; but, fairly quickly the long list of committed atrocities becomes tedious. There is no context apart from the surreal frame of the two men cuddling on a suspended sofa. The dialogue is choppy and the actors' voices are too subdued to maintain attention. And if that still leaves you in the balance, what if I admitted that people started walking out after ten minutes of the World Premiere?
My expectations were huge for a play that covered everything (the UK, the US, politics, relationships) that I love. But, sadly, sometimes love (drunk or not) just ain't enough.
Drunk Enough To Say I Love You
Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
020 7565 5000, to 22 Dec