It’s 1950 Vienna and two British spies are sent to kill a traitor. Yet, despite having the same aim, the characterisations of the two are very different. Cambridge graduate Kip is a celebrated war hero and an esteemed operative. With his privilege-induced idealism, this doesn’t necessarily make him any less likeable than his counterpart Albert, whose obvious working-class routes instantly set him up as the character the audience are presumed to warm to.
In spite of the plot not being particularly unique, the nuanced characters are what really drove this play forward.
Surviving a POW camp, the tough persona he had created to deal with such a situation was reflected in his spade’s-a-spade attitude towards life. Hiding out in the squalid basement of a luxury hotel they presume the traitor’s arrival to be imminent, but as time moves on both men realise that nothing is quite what it seems.
Surprisingly, similarities came in the smart attire and the penchant for whisky that the professional partners shared. This stood in noticeable contrast to the dinginess of the hotel in which the play was set, however. Indeed, the differences continued with one such instance revealing Kip’s “liking" for the lords.
Though the class clash and the secret mission are both well-established formulas of political theatre, the antithesis between the individuals gave this performance its much needed flare. The risk of this play becoming too conventional was prevented by the many plot shifts throughout.
In spite of the plot not being particularly unique, the nuanced characters are what really drove this play forward. Unexpected aspects found within both their characters held the audience’s attention and interest throughout but this wasn’t quite enough to make it a wholly entertaining performance.