Agyness Deyn’s theatrical debut was always going to make a splash. It would be easy for a show to bow under the pressure of such an attention grabbing subtext. But this play — the first production Archambault’s 'The Leisure Society' in London — does no such thing. All the attention should be on the fantastic content of the originally French script and a terrific ensemble effort by four, very talented, actors.
Archambault's one-act play covers an array of socially provocative areas. The exploration of these topics is often hyperbolic, allowing the comedy of the melodrama to raise the issues up for ridicule and satire. Whether it be child abuse, ménage a trois, alcoholism or suicide there is a fearless approach both from within the script and from the delivery by the actors themselves.
Director Harry Burton says he was instantly drawn to the play and its laudable attempt to hold a mirror up to our own neuroses. Archambault erects the pillars by which we judge ourselves in the public realm, only to bring them down to absurdity with genuine comedic touches. This play is very, very funny.
You may leave with a vague realisation that no answers have been given and no conclusions drawn. This is not a play that diagnoses social disorders only to provide an illuminating solution. This is a play that opens a conversation on validity and social interaction while wholeheartedly resigning itself to the fact that there are no simple answers. You are likely to leave with more questions than you came in with but also feeling far more prone to discussing them and that is as good as a play can do in my books.
The Leisure Society is at Trafalgar Studios until 31 March. Tickets from £27.50.
Photo by Lydia Goldblatt.