This new play by Nick Payne about made up personal injury scam contains a rather uninspiring narrative of conspiring and conjuring up the plan and the subsequent court case which deals with the merit of the claim. There are a few personal inter-relationships surrounding the characters on top of the court case but they are added on not entirely convincingly. The structure of the play is episodic with unsubtle clues as to the time of the year as the claim is slowly progressing through the bureaucratic system. The play requires some major scene changes both during the interval and towards the end for the final scene. This makes it puzzling as to why it should be a stage play rather than, say a television hour long drama. The ingredients of a Sunday night ITV popcorn drama are there with a dramatic court scene and characters panicking about their lies,. Oddly, even though it was claimed in the play itself it will not be a “Few Good Men” type court case as it is a civil claim, it duly went into heated cross examinations and barbed exchanges across the court room floor. So there are a few criticisms here. However, Payne can clearly writes good dialog and the sporadic use of humour is intelligent. There are morality and economical issues to be explored regarding the culture of no-win-no-fee and the supposed prevalence of fraudulent claim but unfortunate they are only tangentially and partially examined.
Technically, the production is pretty slick. The acting is great with Marc Wootton as the thuggish claimant and Daniel Mays as the sweaty and guilt ridden lawyer Andrew. Nigel Lindsay is underused, trivialised as tea serving associate of Andrew. The details in the set are great and the scene change is quite a major operation for Donmar but the question remain as to whether a stage play is the best format for the script. However, being in the middle of the stall, sightline is poor during the court scene as most of the cast sat right in front with their backs to the central section and I could not see the witness stand at all for much of the cross examination. It is perfectly adequate as a bit of entertainment but it lacks real insight and thoughtfulness and will be much suited to be on the television.