Image by Helen Murray

Daniel Nelson

Don't mention the B-word, the bomb-maker tells the two women who are to use his explosive device. Instead call it “cow” or “cheese”.

If you find that funny, you might enjoy B, Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón's play at the Royal Court. If not, you may find it heavy going.

At its heart lies an issue worth exploring: the relative merits and de-merits of shocking and surprising – but not harming - people as part of an attempt to glavanise them into changing society compared with the effects of actual bomb blasts ("We used to kill kings. We used to kill millionaires. Amd now all we do make threats on the Internet. That's why I'm offering you the chance to start a war.").

But the writing lacks the zip to keep the farce moving. It raises only occasional smiles and a few chuckles rather than out-loud laughs. The one-dimensional characters are there to propagate particuar perspectives. Even a dramatic plot twist isn't particularly unexpected.

The play may have greater resonance in Chile, which once experienced a spate of relatively harmless detonations. But here and now, in London today, it looks odd and irrelevant.

  • B is at the Royal Court, Sloane Square, SW1, until 21 October . Info: 7565 5000/ https://royalcourttheatre.com/



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