Cloaca at the Old Vic

Waiting for curtain up in the relaunched Old Vic for Kevin Spaceyâs first production one has time not only to observe the extended stage built out into the auditorium but also the Cloaca set.

It appears to be a loft conversion in SE1 but when the play opens one is less sure. Movement outside the high windows suggests snow. The would-be cabinet minister sits reading the Lidl leaflet. Then there is the occasional mention of euros.

However, there are comments about a demonstrator in a batman costume and party conferences. Cloaca, written in Dutch by Amsterdam-based Maria Goos, this Euro-play has also been translated into French, Spanish and German. Whichever capital we are in this comedy about male friends growing old will make men look at their own lives.

Stephen Tompkinson plays Pieter who is host in his flat and has the difficult task of holding attention during the slow opening. Hugh Boneville is the convincing Euro politician, Adrian Lukis is the friend who has ceased to rise to the top and Neil Pearson eventually appears with much energy. The surprise is the female Ingeborga Dapkunaite.

Maybe it is set in London. As the play climaxed at the end of the 20 year friendship a timely pause in the dialogue allowed the audience to catch the tolling of Big Ben. If the flexible translation can maintain this tight timing this play might be a welcome return to success for the Old Vic.

• Cloaca is at the Old Vic Theatre until Saturday 11 December.
• 0870 060 6628 or book online with Ticketmaster

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