THEATRE / Notices: The Television Programme - Gate, London W11

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The Independent Culture
Michael Vinaver's latest drama explores his speciality - the world of work. His anti-hero, Pierre De Lile (well-played by John Muirhead), has been bruised by years of unemployment. When he finally gets a (menial) job and two television researchers (played with relish by Esther Turnage and Devon Scott) offer him 15 minutes of fame in a documentary about the long-term unemployed, he is at first sullen, then enthusiastic. His joy is tempered by his discovery that an ex-colleague and former friend, Nicolas Blache - who is later murdered - is more likely to be chosen.

It is at times like a dream-play. The secretary of the magistrate investigating the Blache case frequently recounts her nocturnal imaginings and in Kim Dambaek's production, the characters glide through each other's lives and scenes (mostly failing to make the necessary connections) like sleepwalkers. Vinaver's thriller format undermines the play's delight in ambiguities and gives the piece an over-structured, schematic feel, although the whodunnit element is never taken that seriously.

The dissection of the petty jealousies and rivalries of working life is neat and, for all its surface breeziness, the piece has genuine compassion for little people who seem constantly surprised and mystified by the turns their lives take.

To 1 Aug (071-229 0706)