Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London

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It’s fair to describe Caryl Churchill as our most original playwright. The first 10 or 15 minutes of her new play show how many- layered her thinking can be. Two men share one sofa. They’re in love with each other. They also share the habit of leaving their sentences unfinished – often so the other can finish it. One is married, and may or may not leave his wife. One is American, the other is English. The play is in short scenes, in each of which the sofa has risen further into the air. And these two lovers keep talking global politics. The fragmentation of dialogue, the ambiguity of just what they’re discussing and why, keep you on tenterhooks.

Till it dawns: this is a metaphor for the Special Relationship, with George W. Bush’s America making Blair’s Britain its guilty bedfellow in the new world order. It’s depressing to find how slick, how dull, this play seems from then on.

Stephen Dillane and Ty Burrell are the guys on the sofa; James Macdonald directs. In Eugene Lee’s designs, by the end, the sofa is halfway up the picture, and heading for the Mile High Club.

That isn’t enough to make Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? interesting as drama. Only 45 minutes long, after its first few minutes it goes nowhere. Once we grasp that these two enamoured creeps are playing power games with each other and with the world, we’re left to feel it’s just Churchill who’s playing games with her audience. The play’s main ploy – people picking up each other’s sentences – becomes the principal reason the play seems over-concerned with its own stylishness. Churchill is our most unpredictable playwright, but this is her most predictable play.

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