Theatre review: Stickney – Stirred up with some Arctic season-specific musicals

Martin Browne’s midweek play was scripted during a long collaboration with fellow playwright Alyson Dowd; it’s topical but subtly funny, setting a battle royale in a toilet full of E.coli-contaminated toilets, at the Olympics….

Theatre review: Stickney – Stirred up with some Arctic season-specific musicals

Martin Browne’s midweek play was scripted during a long collaboration with fellow playwright Alyson Dowd; it’s topical but subtly funny, setting a battle royale in a toilet full of E.coli-contaminated toilets, at the Olympics. Can anything stop a strange British male race to the bathroom before 11.30am? (Yes, I think I’ve seen Midnight Tango more than once…)

The giggles may soon let up, however, for Stickney’s new work, which features a chorus of ducklings, set in an Arctic birch. Stickney is the cultural attache for the US Antarctic program. Her new play is a series of suggestions for refugees fleeing war-torn countries and over-worked parents, who have lost their ingenuity. Stickney pulls well from Hamlet, and portrays her company of Americans as a group of royal uncles, returning to their homeland to help their families. But the show also has a contemporary relevance to contemporary political problems.

Not, it must be noted, a “previously unpublished play” by Stickney. Her recent revivals of These Paper Bullets! and Cottesloe’s Blithe Spirit can be safely compared to a Michael Frayn play. Stickney imagines what a slightly wobbly, possibly sleazy version of the emotional dependencies we’ve come to expect from our ageing parents, but presented through the lens of social aid.

She’s smart, and tickles the funny bones – especially in a nursery-set scene in which a housewife adopts an orangutan/bolting-curiosity–and, at other times, makes the politics seem less clear-cut. And she’s famous for being a small woman: Stickney can pull off clown, political metaphor and angry pantomime with aplomb.

Buy tickets on Society of London Theatre website.

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