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Not-so-gorgeous George: Tom Brooke as the title character in Dennis Kelly's new play

Vicky Featherstone is a fresh arrival as artistic director at London's Royal Court, a transfer from the National Theatre of Scotland, which produced the excellent Black Watch, based on verbatim interviews with Iraq veterans. All the more impressive since there isn't actually a national theatre of Scotland with a building to call its own. Featherstone cleverly evolved this austerity into a concept of "theatre without walls", performing in venues as various as a drill hall and the deck of a North Sea ferry. 

It is the kind of inventiveness the Royal Court, which has had a productive run under Dominic Cooke, needs as the capital's main home for new plays. For her first outing, Featherstone chose a play by Dennis Kelly, The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, which must have looked like a safe bet. Not only had it had an outing in Frankfurt (German audiences are mad keen on English playwrights at the moment), but Kelly wrote the sharp, mischievous playbook for the transatlantic hit Matilda and has a wickedly accurate ear for modern dialogue. 

Things start off well enough. We are introduced to the life and times of Gorge, a go-getting Everyman of the free market. A deftly choreographed chorus gives a witty resumé of a teenage boy's fumblings, sexual and intellectual: "He read Marx and Engels. Orwell and Popper. And then to balance things out a bit, Ayn Rand."

Alas, any such intellectual curiosity is missing from the rest of the evening. The fault is in the play, not the excellent ensemble. Gorge, a gawky, fidgety Tom Brooke, (a dead ringer for the young Nicholas Lyndhurst), has to choose whether to support his panicking boss, whose company is facing bankruptcy, or back a takeover by a female entrepreneur (Pippa Haywood), who switches from affability one minute to ruthless aggression the next. "Goodness or cowardice" is the choice before our callow hero as the action unfolds. And guess which he chooses. (It would be a dull saga indeed if he had chosen goodness.)

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