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NEW STAGES: REVIEWS He'll get you in the end

Watch Out for Mr Stork


The title of Diane Samuels's new play is drawn from a jolly little ditty that plays out over the auditorium as the audience take their seats: "... he'll get you in the end". But Samuels's play challenges the song's blithe assumption: Mr Stork, she reminds us, flies straight over some couples, and infertility inflicts dreadful pain.

Andy has brought Karen on a surprise visit to London Zoo to cheer her up but, despite their mutual affection, we soon become aware of the tension between them. Andy's real surprise for Karen is not the pandas, but the fact that his father has offered to pay for two more sessions of IVF. When he reveals this, however, she explodes. Samuels offsets this strained relationship against the fractious one between a harassed mother and her six-year-old son, also visitors to the zoo.

The director, Phil Willmott,cannot disguise the fact that this is a rather limiting form (disappointing from the author of the acclaimed Kindertransport), but the performances are strong - particularly the central ones of Ian Henderson and Caroline O'Neill - and the writing around the central issue has a raw, moving, dreadful honesty that is both gripping and painful.

Sarah Hemming