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
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power