Never have I witnessed a piece of theatre so anti-feminist, racist, mocking of the mentally ill and the LGBTQ community. The story of Dr Prentice’s (Rufus Hound) surgery descending into farcical chaos seemed drastically misdirected and unguided in regards to any kind of current political message.
The play begins with promise as the stage design, by Michael Taylor, is revealed as a clean, slick and bright aesthetic, teetering powerfully on an angle to its audience. However, not even halfway into the first act, it becomes apparent the emphasis of the comedy has been placed incorrectly by the director, simply portraying an offensive, and largely anti-feminist view.
Matters do not improve in the second half as one scene, depicting Dr Prentice graphically slapping his wife across the face, seems to enforce a dated ideology of women as an object to their husbands, which very much confuses the apparent intended comedic farce of the piece as a whole. The mentally ill were depicted as ‘mad’ from the offset, while as the characters of Geraldine (Dakota Blue Richards) and Nicholas Beckett (Jack Holden) swapped genders, and was found to subsequently be a confused statement. Emphasis was placed throughout, not on the skilled irony of the script, but instead upon humourising and subsequently attempting to reassert the outdated belief that only women should wear dresses and any kind of homosexual, non-binary act is unnatural. Ultimately, my issue lies in the portrayal of the authorial characters, and the celebration of their ability to demean and mock characteristics of gender, race, sexuality and mental illness. The intent may have been to satirise, but it was so poorly put into practise that it appears utterly offensive.
I must clarify, I feel these issues were no fault of the cast’s, but the direction. The cast executed these characters with energy, emphasis and dedication to the best of their ability, but the style of comedy failed in the emphasis falling completely inappropriately. Instead of a light, farcical and entertaining evening, I left feeling offended, irate, and generally concerned for the state of this piece, and questioning how the creatives could have supported such political controversies.