The Still Room, Park Theatre, stage review: ‘Biting social commentary leavened with dark humour’

The play benefits from ‘strong ensemble acting’

It is 1981 and the country is rivetted by royal nuptials. But Buckingham Palace is very different from post-industrial Manchester, the setting of Sally Rogers’s new play The Still Room.

Janice wants more than a waitressing job at a failing hotel restaurant can provide, but if her O-Level results do not deliver, things may get tough.

Her desperation contrasts with the situation of new waitress Diane, for whom a few weeks at the restaurant will fund a holiday in Greece.

Directed by Nigel Douglas, The Still Room offers biting social commentary leavened with dark humour and strong ensemble acting.

The play is a deft illustration of how when education is the sole route to social mobility, the gap between aspiration and achievement is for many insurmountable. It is also a moving portrayal of the double-standards in a social system where the middle classes violate social norms with impunity, whereas a working-class girl is a ‘slag’ regardless of how she behaves.

One leaves this hugely enjoyable production wondering how much has really changed in the past 40 years; certainly the social conundrums at the heart of this drama linger in the mind.

The Still Room runs until 25 June at the Park Theatre, Clifton Terrance, N4 3JP.