Losing the Plot

John Godber

Theatre Royal Wakefield

New Town Theatre

From 01 August 2013 to 25 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

John Godber is one of Britain’s most popular playwrights so a chance to see a fresh work will always prove attractive.

Strangely, although it is brand new, this two-hander feels rooted in the 1980s.

The action takes place in the kitchen / diner of Sally and Jack, respectively played by Susan Cookson and Steve Huison.

He was once a budding artist but long ago gave up that vocation to become a schoolteacher. She spent many years as a housewife and, now that the children are grown-up, runs a florist’s.

Approaching 50 and panicking about the economic downturn and its impact on educational resource and jobs, Jack literally goes AWOL for three months, returning as a gibbering wreck.

The couple then do a highly theatrical about turn, Sally becoming the proud breadwinner by writing a comic novel of dubious literary quality but set to make a mint.

This offends Jack, who is the thinly-disguised protagonist, leading to a series of those legendary Thatcherite debates about principles and values, with feminist overtones.

There are occasional comic moments, one outrageously funny but the overall impression is of entering a time warp and seeing a John Godber play from his heyday.

Presumably the message is that the Cameron years are set to replicate those of his feted predecessor but it might be easiest just to regard this as a well-written sitcom.