Set in Aberdeen, Lesley Hart’s two-hander is a darkly comic look at the lengths people will go in the face of a financial crisis. When the gas and oil markets collapse, Karen starts up a dominatrix company to make ends meet. All of that is thrown into turmoil when estranged younger sister Anne turns up.
The latest addition to Sherman Theatre’s A Play, A Pie & A Pint series, World Domination is yet another solid piece of new writing. Hart’s 45-minute script is brimming with working-class Scottish anger not typically seen on this side of the island, imbued with an at times unsettling humour. The play’s comedy lies in the pain of poverty and familial estrangement, and Hart lays it on thick. The dominatrix angle may be hard to relate to, but it’s by no means unbelievable. It’s a very real scenario and the audience are expected to laugh at it. To her credit, they do.
Much of the play’s success lies in a wonderful central performance from Louise Ludgate. It’s a role written specifically for her and she certainly repays that kindness. Behind Karen’s harsh and exasperated exterior is a softer, sweeter woman afraid to break out, and Ludgate plays that struggle with just the right amount of pathos. Hannah Donaldson does a fine job as Anne, but the character is not as fleshed-out. A longer play would probably solve this problem, and there is certainly scope for that.
Moreso than other recent PPP pieces, the design of the show is crucial to the play. Andy Cowan (sound), Ross Kirkland and Chris Reilly (lighting) give the production a punky feel that feeds into the subject matter. Jac Ifan Moore’s makes some interesting directorial decisions – he perhaps didn’t need to over-populate the stage as much as he did, but the slow-motion montages between scenes were expertly handled. For a production set up in such a short space of time, he does a solid job.
PPP as a concept is designed to offer something different, and World Domination is very much a departure from what you’d usually see at the Sherman. Echoing shades of Leon Fleming’s Sid, World Domination is a very promising play in need of extending.