Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams in Lucy Kirkwood’s new play

Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams in Lucy Kirkwood’s new play

Robert Tanitch reviews Mosquitoes at National Theatre/Dorfman

Mosquitoes is by Lucy Kirkwood who had a big success with Chimerica. Her latest and somewhat overwhelming play offers a series of domestic collisions interrupted by the occasional lecture on the universe.

Kirkwood hones in on two middle-aged sisters. Alice (Olivia Williams) is very bright and constantly belittles Jenny (Olivia Colman) who is less bright. Their mother (Amanda Boxer), who was once a very high flyer indeed, sides with Alice and rubbishes Jenny.

Olivia Williams and Joseph Quinn in Mosquitoes - Credit Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Olivia Williams and Joseph Quinn in Mosquitoes

Jenny is not as stupid as they both think. The incontinent mother is on the fast track to dementia and knows it, hence her cruelty

Alice works for CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, in Geneva. Jenny sells medical insurance over the phone. She also tries to seduce Alice’s boy friend (Yoli Fuller).

Jenny has lost her first child because she refused to have the child vaccinated.

Alice has a disturbed schoolboy son (Joseph Quinn) who is in serious trouble, getting beaten up and suffering from cyber bullying. He turns computer-hacker.

The casting of Colman and Williams means that the Dorfman is playing to full houses and it is their acting which gives the play its dramatic, emotional and intellectual energy.

Joseph Quinn is also very convincing.

Rufus Norris’s in-the-round production, with discs on the floor and above the actors’ heads, has a striking and effective planetarium feel and the colours are ravishing.

There is a professor (Paul Hilton in a white coat) to put us in the picture and list the various ways our world could end.

Are we being informed or patronised or lied to?

Robert Tanitch Mature Times theatre reviewerIt is vital that scientists re-engage with non-scientists. They have a moral responsibility to do so. Otherwise how do you get people to change their Behaviour?

In the grand scheme of things – Big Bang, Chaos, the ever-expanding universe, Armageddon – we are all mosquitoes.

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