It is a complete delight to watch these two actors practice their craft. Sadly, An Intervention, even with a new reworking for this rehearsed reading, is far from Mike Bartlett’s best work.
Pacing and comedic timing was beat perfect
We follow Charly Clive and Ellen Robetson who are playing old friends, one a teacher with a drinking problem, and the other in a relationship their friend doesn't approve of. They are the kind of friends that argue, so we follow them as they have a disagreement about the Iraq war. As we jump through time we see each of the characters lean on their friend as they struggle with personal and political trials, in a messy and passionate demonstration of the power of friendship.
Clare Lizzimore has cleverly directed the piece using clever framing and some very slick video editing, to really hit home during this time of lockdown, social distancing and pandemic. As the world became suddenly, painfully aware of the importance of strong networks of friendship for the world's happiness and mental health amongst an epidemic of loneliness. I won’t spoil the wonderful moment of connection, but it was beautifully done.
Clive and Robetson were excellent together. The fact they are childhood friends and have been working professionally together making comedy as Britney since 2016 comes across clearly in the piece. They have a natural chemistry that brings the important themes of the piece, that of long term friendships and having to tackle things you are not proud of with the people you love. Their pacing and comedic timing was beat perfect, as though they have been living in each other's pockets for years, which they may have actually done. They shine when the dialogue is working with them, and lift it well when it’s working against them.
Bartlett is one of the most exciting British playwrights currently working, his 2009 play Cock, is one of my favourite plays. Both An Intervention and Barlett’s much more well known play King Charles III, premiered in the same year, 2014. King Charles III is arguably the more popular with it’s national tours and a Broadway production. I know which one I saw at the time. Indeed both of the plays have similar issues of being full of potential at opening, and by the end of the piece having a sense of having wasted that potential. When the plot turns against the characters, they just seem to sit about talking about how bad that is. The characters don’t really react to the plot beyond acknowledging it as bad, or have any consequences for their earlier behaviours.