E.V. Crowe’s hero could be the wonderful Daniel Mays as Jamie, a jumpy primary school teacher who finds himself on the wrong end of a homophobic witch-hunt instigated by a seven year-old pupil while his partner is trying to get pregnant.
Or perhaps it’s Liam Garrigan’s out-gay Danny from Sheffield, who works in the same school as Jamie and who’s made a breakthrough, he thinks, by writing himself into a classroom sea adventure where he’s pulled to safety after saying he lives with his husband.
It’s certainly not that husband, Tim Steed’s precise and regular radio producer, Joe, who would not be happy about their putative adopted child being taught by someone “openly gay” and who thinks that most people reckon that homosexual primary school teachers must be paedophiles.
We don’t meet Jamie’s partner, Susannah Wise’s patient (and now pregnant) Lisa, until the second act. But the time-scale also seems to have slipped a couple of notches, as Jamie is recovering from the beating he takes in the first act but forecasting a different scenario at the school; he’s lost his job and apologised to the seven year-old.
Crowe, following her riotous girls’ school play, Kin, is a star graduate of the Court’s Young Writers Programme. But Jeremy Herrin’s otherwise smart and superbly acted production - designed in sleek, clean kitchen lines by Mike Britton (and sharply lit by Rick Fisher) - hasn’t sorted out the narrative chronology, which rolls along not all that merrily or, in the second act, comprehensibly.
The first act is utterly compelling, though, as Mays suggests a troubled psyche far removed from his swaggering train robber, Ronnie Biggs, on television recently; he’s definitely hiding something in his relationship with Danny and Joe, or one of them, feigning horror at the thought of a Hawaiian take-out pizza with pineapple while turning up his Julie London vinyl sob-song in the privacy of his own kitchen.
The trouble is that having set up the ambiguities and the various possible conjugations in the relationships of these four characters, Crowe seems reluctant to follow them through. Perhaps that’s the point. Which leaves me wondering if it’s deliberately intended that Jamie seems to be viewed, and indeed played, as a totally different character in each half.