At the Hampstead Theatre: Skåne by Pamela Carter

Families torn apart by lies, adulterers who must choose between their passion and their duty, children who look on bewildered by the foolishness of their parents. Welcome to Skåne.

This is a short play, clocking in at about an hour, and if you’re looking for neat resolutions you’d probably be better going elsewhere. Pamela Carter’s latest, which drew a pleasingly full first-night crowd to what may be the Michael Frayn Space or what may be the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, is episodic and doesn’t tie anything together in a pleasing bow. I do wonder how many of the audience – polite middle class types – squirmed a little as a tale of polite middle class lives turned on their heads by an affair that started at a conference played out.

The observations were neat and the acting strong. In particular the writing for and performances by the female characters (played by Federay Holmes, Helen Schlesinger and Shannon Tarbet) was excellent. In contrast, I felt that the male adults weren’t really going anywhere but I did like the interactions between the two sons and Olle (the younger) with his desire to keep making everyone coffee showed clearly the anxious need to make everything normal again. The final scene makes the play – it is truly disarming and leaves you questioning what exactly is ‘right’ in this situation.

All in all, a very good way to spend an £12 and an hour. Plus the Hampstead Theatre is always a nice place to pop by and I can recommend the house red to accompany the adultery.

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