The Vertical Hour subverted
The main plotline is a posing of the personal versus the political, of how you relate your private life to what is going on around you. (Yawn, gaze at navel). The basic plot is of an American war reporter turned academic who travels to Wales with her boyfriend to visit his father. She doesn’t love Bush but supported the war, the father despises Bush and opposed it; she gets louder, he gets the good lines. You expect this tête-à-tête from Hare, who likes to keep abreast of the news and isn’t exactly shy about his lefty politics. But the casting is rubbish and the chemistry is missing. In fact, the leading woman (pictured here) is so ineffectual it’s hard to know what Hare or the director really think of the character or how she’s supposed to relate to the other people onstage.
Hare defines the 'vertical hour' as "the moment at which you are able to recognise the truth about yourself." It's just a shame the play never enjoys one of its own. Notwithstanding, my vertical hour came in the bar afterwards when I realised how pretentious and decadent theatre makes me feel uncomfortable and phoney. As if I was posing to enjoy theatre because I thought it was the right thing to do and not because I really loved it. So that's it for me and the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs. But I still enjoy the honest, authentic new writing put on Upstairs.
I wonder if Dominic Cooke sees the irony in the Royal Court's subversion of the Upstairs/Downstairs motif?