The End of Hope, Soho Theatre

a co-production with the Orange Tree Theatre

You only find round beds with pink satin sheets in particular places or owned by particular people. But it’s safe to say that a woman wearing a full, fur-suited mouse costume complete with face/head mask is not one of these.

David Ireland’s dark comedy trades in defying stereotypes right from the get-go as the lights reveal said be-moused woman vigorously bouncing on an unseen man’s crotch. This charged energy carries through the rest of the darkly funny and highly politicised The End of Hope.

Biting, unrestrained dialogue captures the selfish, zero-fucks-to-give nature of one-night stands, though the two vulnerable characters Ireland creates are particularly extreme examples. Therein lies the comedy, as their differences in education, class and cultural experiences is gradually revealed. The laughs gradually give way to a sad and desperate honesty that speaks volumes on our propensity to categorise people into unforgiving boxes of likes and dislikes according to our background.

Elinor Lawless and Rufus Wright are Janet and Dermot, a tense, sparky pair of flawed, lonely people. They both struggle with secrets and insecurities, and the contrasting backgrounds Ireland endows them with naturally fosters tension.

With many of the laughs stemming from a place of familiar discomfort, The End of Hope effectively uses comedy to comment on social and cultural inequality. Those of us that seem to have it all are often unhappy and out of touch with those less privileged, and those of us who are down-at-heel without the opportunities of our peers are alienated but not necessarily discontent with our lot. It’s a poignant reminder to really listen to those who are different from us.

The End of Hope runs through 11 November.

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