Wild East, Royal Court, London

3.00

Frank is a young man with an anthropology degree from Lampeter and the interpersonal skills of a self-destructive nerd from central casting.

Frank is a young man with an anthropology degree from Lampeter and the interpersonal skills of a self-destructive nerd from central casting. He wants to live in Russia for romantic reasons: to be near a female fellow-anthropologist whose "archive on shamanic implements has to be seen to be believed". Accordingly, in April De Angelis's new play Wild East, he arrives for an interview for a job in market research in the rampant, capitalism-red-in-tooth-and-claw world of post-Communist Russia.

Very amusingly played by Tom Brooke as a vivid demonstration that failure is 99 per cent perspiration, Frank is not a natural in sharp-suited business surroundings. It's just his luck that the woman he chattily takes to be another candidate is one of the two formidable female interviewers waiting to film their interrogation of him.

I took a private bet, though, that by the end of this 85-minute drama, Frank would be prepared to smash all his values to get the post - and he does, almost literally (and to my mind highly artificially), through the wanton destruction of a beautiful ancient object.

The play is often very funny, and it contains some long speeches where De Angelis's ability to conjure up in words a dollar-hungry world where the devil takes the hindmost is disturbingly felt. There's a bit where one of the interviewers asks Frank to imagine that he's in a hotel in a new Russian boom-town. A prostitute pays him an unwanted visit and slumps over from drugs before he can show her the door. He has to call "security", but security is the last thing on security's mind. Before the resisting Frank is kicked unconscious, he's subjected to moral blackmail. How would he like to live in a place where, to survive, men had "to bring [foreign visitors] women they didn't even have the guts to fuck"?

It's probably a set-up; that's how crime works. And De Angelis overstates this point in her depiction of the condoned crime of big business as itself operating as a series of set-ups and set-ups within set-ups. In a way that Phyllida Lloyd's sharply etched, punchily acted production can't reclaim, the play becomes more and more irritatingly improbable on the simple, non-metaphorical level. Would two hard-nosed corporate types such as Dr Pitt (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and Helen Schlesinger's Dr Gray expose their messy mutual love-lives to an interviewer (particularly when the encounter is being filmed), except to illustrate the point that the pair are themselves the nervous likely victims of a set-up in a world where "continual restructuring is the future"?

From the outset, I was haunted by a sense of déjà vu. Not surprising: Joe Penhall's Dumb Show, a main-stage Royal Court play last year, had a very similar set-up about, well, set-ups. That had a couple of sting journalists trying to entrap a comedian. But the focus on the contradictions of capitalist freedom was more concentrated there, and the dramaturgy was tighter. One play where three is company on this stage is fine; two of them so close together begin to look like a crowd.

To 12 March (020-7565 5000)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas