Canadian dramatist Brad Fraser has never been a respecter of the pieties. His story of the relationship between Joey, a severely physically disabled 17 year old, and his widower father Jake, who has given up a promising writing career to look after him, packs all the more powerful an emotional punch for the bracing honesty, taboo-busting humour and unsentimental compassion with which he treats it.
In Braham Murray's pitch-perfect European premiere, Greg Wise, on splendid form after a long gap from stage-work, shows you an over-burdened, fiercely devoted parent who has become a bit too dependent on being irreplaceable, his only relief a weekly assignation with a married lover.
But Oliver Gomm's astonishingly convincing Joey is now reaching belated puberty, surfing online porn and wanting to move into a flat with his cocky pal Rowdy (hilarious Jack McMullen) who has mild learning difficulties but no sexual inhibitions. Jake is agonised that Joey, by contrast, can't even masturbate.
A reassessment becomes drastically necessary when Jake himself goes into steep physical decline and there's a devastating shift in the balance of power.
In its discomfiting black comedy and unflinching truthfulness about disability, this play is up there with Peter Nichols's Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
To 29 March; 020 7870 6876Reuse content