Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) and Sarah Hadland (Miranda) give bold performances in Joshua Harmon’s daring and intelligent comedy – ★★★★
Sherri Rosen-Mason is a problematic character with a problem. Sherri (Kingston), an admissions head obsessed with ‘ticking boxes’, learns that her white son is deferred from his college of choice, and her stance on diversity starts to falter.
Ben Edelman plays the temperamental teenage son Charlie Luther Mason in the production, who in addition to being the character at the centre of Sherri’s moral dilemma, is also the individual relied upon for most of the exposition in the play. It’s likely understandable given the plot, but a white privilege rant from Charlie in the kitchen feels drawn-out and exhaustive. While comedic on the grounds of it being an extreme tangent and a jab at teen angst, it’s a lazy way of raising some of the play’s underlying socio-political issues within a tight 100-minute running time.
Instead, Harmon’s best comedy lies in the subversive one-liners and contradictory beliefs held by Rosen-Mason as the plot develops, as Sherri’s idea of what’s acceptable continues to fluctuate. Tensions build along the way in her relationship with partner Bill (Andrew Woodall) and friend Ginnie Peters (Sarah Hadland), who becomes an emotive voice in reason in this elaborate satire.
Towards the end of the piece, Charlie raises a point which quite easily summarises the underlying point at the heart of the script: what is “fair”?
In Admissions, we see Sherri’s perception of fairness get called into question, in a thought-provoking and clever production which forces us to examine our own definitions of equality and diversity.
This review is of a preview performance. Admissions is now playing in Studio 1 at Trafalgar Studios until 25 May.
Production Images: Johan Persson.