Victory Condition

Chris Thorpe
Royal Court Theatre Downstairs

Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Jonjo O'Neill Credit: Helen Murray
Jonjo O'Neill and Sharon Duncan-Brewster Credit: Helen Murray
Jonjo O'Neill Credit: Helen Murray

In a fashionably modern style, what viewers see and what they hear during this hour-long production directed by Vicky Featherstone share no obvious relationship.

Visually, we witness a couple referred to in the programme as no more than Man and Woman, played by Jonjo O’Neill and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, pottering around their compact, modern living room with its open kitchen, apparently immediately after their return from a holiday somewhere pleasantly hot.

Between them, the pair make a light meal with the assistance of a pizza delivery woman, play video games, change, shower and go through the mundane activities that comprise life in the 21st century.

At the same time, they alternately deliver apparently unconnected monologues directly to the audience, each of their speeches helpfully cut up into bite-size but still sometimes indigestible chunks.

It relatively quickly becomes apparent that Mr O’Neill’s character is a hitman talking about sniping in an unidentified country where a rebellion is ongoing.

Miss Duncan Brewster’s speech starts out with a description of a normal day at the office, although this quickly dissolves into the aftermath of some kind of horrific tragedy, presumably caused by an explosive device that might even be biological or nuclear.

Much of the performance consists of these two very detailed and sometimes quite stomach-churning descriptions of incidents that are not obviously linked together.

Before the closure, though, Chris Thorpe takes us into slightly different territory obliging members of the audience to consider the state of the world today and the ways in which those living in different countries and continents go about their daily lives.

Victory Condition is not the kind of easy play that presents straightforward concepts and answers the questions that it raises. Instead, is a tangential, mysterious piece of writing that is more likely to work on a visceral level than through the normal cognitive mental processes.

As such, it is designed for adventurous theatregoers who are unafraid of the avant-garde and feel no desire to have their evening out come to a definitive conclusion.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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