Plastic is the first production in the new Ustinov Season. Here, director Matthew Dunster has set a blistering pace with this challenging and revealing play by the trailblazing European playwright Mayenburg.
Here as in his other brilliant satirical work, Mayenburg examines the relationship between art and life alongside exploring identity and reason. This acerbic and sharp edged comedy takes a close look at the self righteous political correctness of the middle classes and the result is quite astonishing.
We meet the central protagonists Michael and Ulrike. Their marriage on the brink of collapse; Michael is a doctor, with ambitions of heroic grandeur. Ulrike, his wife, is an assistant to the infamous Serge Haulupa, a bizarre conceptual artist; Serge invites himself to their home to make art over dinner and chaos ensues. Jessica Schmitt is the new cleaner and Vincent their teenage son stands alone with his video camera battling the trials of puberty.
This is an excellent production, alongside the laughter are moments of deep reflection. The script fizzes with insight and exposes the ugly truth of inherent sexism, racism and class.
Charlotte Randle (Ulrike) as the strident, defiant and dominant mother is breathtaking. Jonathan Slinger (Michael) is both maligned and yet unable to find his role within the marital home. In complete contrast is Steve John Shepherd (Haulupa) who languishes and controls with great style; inhabiting every possible nuance of the pretentious artist whose words are often searing with truth. Ria Zmitrowicz (Jessica) is a delight as the cleaner, confidante and observer of the world around her. Her timing is immaculate and wisdom often overlooked. Brenock O’ Connor (Vincent) is left to find his way through the yelling, confusion and sexual frustrations of puberty.
The Ustinov once again triumphs with this sparkling satire. The European season has well and truly arrived, certainly one not to be missed.
***** – 5 Stars