One For Sorrow Is An Effective Exploration Of Fear Culture

One For Sorrow, Royal Court Theatre ★★★★☆

One For Sorrow Is An Effective Exploration Of Fear Culture One For Sorrow, Royal Court Theatre 4
Photo: Johan Persson

You can tell you’re in a posh family house on stage when there’s salad on the table with a meat meal. One For Sorrow pitches us firmly in the smart home of urban liberals Bill and Emma (Neil Dudgeon and Sarah Woodward, both excellent), and their two bright but furiously defensive teen-to-twenty daughters.

Photo: Johan Persson

Cordelia Lynn has a clear ear for domestic badinage and absurdism: the first act could be Mike Leigh were it not for the fact the drama down the road is significantly more upsetting than Abigail’s Party.

A Bataclan-style attack has escalated into full scale mayhem and the body count climbs inexorably during the evening. The older daughter has tweeted #OpenDoor offering shelter to someone who can’t get home.

Photo: Johan Persson

What arrives is an anxious British Asian man with a heavy parka he won’t remove, and a bulging backpack. The parents jump to the conclusions you’ve just considered, while the Snapchat-radicalised daughters champion openness, inclusion and snogging the bloke.

Photo: Johan Persson

Lynn says she’s exploring ‘fear culture’ which the parents’ generation thinks is what fuels any resistance to letting teenagers make government policy. There's certainly a sense of being manipulated, and fed misinformation, but the very fact your reactions are inconclusive means the play has made its point.

A play to see, and a writer to watch.

One For Sorrow, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Sw3.  Tickets £12-40, until 11 August 2018.

Last Updated 28 June 2018