ADMISSIONS at the Trafalgar Studios
Trafalgar Studios is just off Trafalgar Square funnily enough. The drive into London was quite pleasant and parking was simple at Q-Park Trafalgar.  A quick bite to eat in the Admiralty (delicious mini-pies) and a short stroll round the corner ready for the show.

"It's one hour and 40 minutes with no interval", the audience are told and the snack and drinks bar suddenly become busier. Actually, that's good to know. A good film is 90 minutes, any longer it's a directors self indulgence I always think, so a continuous play for 100 minutes, is fine by me. Especially with a small cast and no change of set.

The play is set in an American school which doubles as the home of the school's head of admissions. It's nicely done, and the stairs and a hallway being put to good effect.

Now, to the subject matter.  Diversity.  A topical subject which in the decades to come could well be a great historical reference for the times we live in.  Are we hung up on diversity, or have we gone not just far enough.  What do we mean by diversity ?  Is it about race or colour, men or women, age, how about sexuality ? Do white men have all the power in America ? Do we select admissions to schools to meet a statistical criteria of diversity and publicise it ?  When you publicise it, how do you represent the people in the choice of images ?

Don't expect to be a passive listener in this play.  Your brain will be working a little bit harder than normal. The play is sharply written, by Joshua Harmon a New York writer... and a white man. The play centres on a white middle class family and differing views of what diversity should mean, and cost to them. They have two white colleagues. One of whom has a son who is a 'person of colour' and sensitive to discrimination he may experience. The other is a woman in the twilight years of her career, and doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

The audience was largely white I noticed, middle class too from the conversations and behaviours I noticed in the bar and on the way in. Diversity, I feel, is only just getting off the ground in our way of life, experiences, choices, attitudes and language. It needs plays like this to remind you of that, and in that way this play is stunning. 

It's not as funny as the critics and quotes I've seen but it's an important play to get diversity. To challenge our thoughts, to help see a reflection of our own perceptions and understanding of the subject. 

As for the cast. They are seasoned actors who you've have seen on Dr Who (Alex Kingston), or Miranda (Sarah Hadland), The Bill (Margot Leicester), Grantchester (Andrew Woodall). However, stealing the show is the son, played by Ben Edelman, who is a newcomer to the stage but performed the role on Broadway.  This was the first time I've seen an audience applaud a lengthy emotional, ranting, teenage angst-ridden, rage-against-the-machine monologue. His youth, inexperience, and perceived innocence of the world he's entered into is thought provoking and will stay in your mind for a long time.

As I left, I couldn't help wonder what our Richmond Theatre audience will think about this play. It's heading there next.

You can see Admissions at Trafalgar Studios until 25th May.

Tickets at our official Love Theatre site.

Review by Douglas McFarlane.