There are two ways to make money in theatre. One is to put on a play in a large house: more bums on seats. Alternatively, you can hike the ticket prices in a smaller house: more expensive bums on seats. With a capacity of 65, short of raising seat prices sky-high, the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs is never going to be a money-maker. You could just about possibly break even on a solo performance in a single spot with no set, but with anything larger, forget it. This really is subsidised theatre.

The work in the main house has long been used to help fund the Theatre Upstairs. This must have been part of the thinking behind programming Jonathan Harvey's relentlessly crowd-pleasing Babies. Joe Penhall's brutal love-story, Some Voices (right), must have been considered unlikely to fill the house downstairs - a virtually unknown writer with dark subject matter - but it has undeniable strengths, not least in its ability to take an idea and run with it. Penhall is unfashionably unafraid to tackle serious things seriously. Good news from a 23-year old.

Given the recent government blunderings about Care in the Community, cynics may regard it as merely a theatrical rapid response, but Penhall's study was written in 1993. The buzz from the previews is very good. Budgetary constraints - barely any set and with some of the cast of five wearing their own clothes - haven't compromised its strength.

'Some Voices' opens tonight at the Theatre Upstairs (071-730 1745)

(Photograph omitted)