Sarah Rutherford's debut play at the Park Theatre is set on the night of Obama's 2008 election
Sarah Rutherford's distinctly promising debut play is a girls' night in on the momentous occasion of Barack Obama's 2008 election victory, which they are watching on television in a luxury loft in a smart London district.
Well, it's near a common, where the older children are camping out with one of the dads. The smaller ones are downstairs in bed, leaving the coast clear for Natasha (Susannah Doyle) and her three 30-something chums to discuss matters they don't get round to at the private school gates.
Primarily, this means chewing the fat and indulging in competitive liberal backchat on racial issues, mixed race parenting, the trials of adoption (Natasha has two sweet little African children with tribal names) and attitude with gratitude over the tray of "Obamatinis" that are washing down the Ethiopian buffet option.
Nothing is black and white, more a muddled sort of hysterical grey, with Obama face masks for party time and sudden freedom from children. What happens next may give them all cause for regret that they ever signed up, though you know from the start that it's only a matter of time before things go horribly wrong.
Natasha herself couldn't be more pleased with herself. Amy Robbins' over-ripe white Mo is unapologetically hitched to a black guy, while we're not too sure about Olivia Poulet's dizzy Izzy and her "accidental parenting" of an all-white child (though he's got lots of black friends).
Izzy has turned up in pyjamas, which leads to a certain amount of social loosening as the drink hits home and Jacqueline Boatswain's heavily pregnant, magisterial black Angela demonstrates her physical prowess on a big rubber birthing ball, a "sex-text" goes awry, Izzy rants against the multi-ethnic mafia, and the night air resounds to the smack of lesbian snogging and tantrums over the teddy bears.
Jez Bond's production – his first as a director since opening this lovely new theatre – is beautifully cast and builds the tensions without quite disguising the automatic zinginess of the anxious-to-shock, carefully compiled one-liners or the forced nature of some of the revelations as things take a nasty turn for the worse on the common, rather like the developments down the road during Abigail's Party.
Still, it's an amusing, provocative play on the whole, and there's nothing a liberal-minded multicultural North London audience likes more than being insulted on its own doorstep; I thought a couple of hip-looking well-dressed dudes along the row from me were going to split in half with inter-racial merriment.
See also: Our interview with playwright Sarah Rutherford