Mike Bartlett, who will be best known to many for the smash hit TV drama Doctor Foster, must surely be the toast of theatreland right now.
The writer has seen high profile runs of his Trump satire The 47th at the Old Vic and Scandaltown at the Lyric Hammersmith drawing huge crowds, and the revival of Cock in the West End hit the headlines with tickets selling (somewhat controversially) for up to £400.
It is therefore something of a coup for us at Greenwich Theatre to have secured the rights to stage An Intervention, Bartlett’s play about friendship, conflicts, and how we deal with them, ranging from the deeply personal to the intercontinental.
The two characters in An Intervention have been friends for a long time, but when a war overseas brings into sharp focus a deep-seated difference of opinion between the two, their relationship is put under huge pressure.
As the show begins one has just come home from attending a huge anti-war protest while the other didn’t turn up, but that single event is set to affect their relationship in a whole host of unexpected ways.
The last time I directed a play with just two actors was in 2015, a revival of John Retallack’s migration drama Hannah and Hanna, and that too was about a collision of different views, but where Retallack’s play is about a Kosovan teenager meeting a white, National Front supporting British teenager in Margate, Bartlett’s collision is much less obvious.
An Intervention is about discovering that someone you hold dear, and think you know, has a totally different view about something that matters deeply to you – but something that might never have come to light if world events had unfolded differently.
Like the families and communities divided over Brexit. If the referendum had never happened we might never know how those around us really feel about our place in Europe, but political events demanded that we all think about it, talk about it and, inevitably, post about it on social media, and so the previously invisible differences became visible divisions.
Bartlett’s play forces us to wonder whether we’d take the easy road or confront our demons, whether we’d be strong enough to be honest with others and with ourselves, but it’s also gloriously theatrical.
It owes as much to Morecombe and Wise as it does to political satire or deep emotional drama, and with a fantastic cast (Lauren Drennan, returning from our production of Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, and a professional debut for a fantastic new actor, Helen Ramsay) this is sure to be
a real roller-coaster.
Audiences who come to the show (which certainly isn’t being priced at £400, and will surely be the most affordable production of a Mike Bartlett play in London this year) should expect to see the Greenwich Theatre stage used in a new way, forcing us to get up close and personal with these two characters as their relationship frays but celebrating the art of theatre at the same time.