Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The End of Hope

David Ireland
Soho Theatre, Orange Tree Theatre
Soho Theatre

Rufus Wright and Elinor Lawless Credit: Robert Day
Rufus Wright and Elinor Lawless Credit: Helen Maybanks
Elinor Lawless Credit: Robert Day

You might laugh a good deal at David Ireland’s play The End of Hope.

It is an absurd situation comedy that is entirely built around the laughs it can generate. The dialogue is delivered with superb comic timing by Elinor Lawless as Janet and Rufus Wright as Dermot.

Janet for much of the early part of the show is dressed as a mouse because God told her she would get more sex from men that way. Dermot thought it impolite to ask her to take her mask off—after all, they had only just met for sex after linking up online.

When they take a break from the sex and start to argue, he wonders how compatible they are. He likes Channel 4 which she declares is only watched by “gay Pakistanis”—not that she is trying to be offensive. She points out that “it’s good they have a channel they can watch.”

She prefers to watch ITV which he argues is holding back the revolution by making people stupid.

Their arguments don’t get more substantial than that and they are always simply played for laughs, so the audience is discouraged from taking her prejudices or his self righteousness seriously. And if that wasn’t enough to discount what we hear then the characters on a number of occasions admit that they are lying to each other.

They also repeat each other’s sentences and Janet mishears things.

She mishears Dermot’s name as Derek and David Schwimmer, the actor from the show Friends, as David Snippet. More weirdly, when Dermot tells her that African villages are being burned for control of the cocoa crops she imagines he is talking about a war over Coco Pops.

There is no believable plot, no substance to the story and no development of the characters. The play is all for laughs and this made the sixty-minute running time feel like a very long time.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna