“Contractions” by Mike Bartlett

I am always searching for playwrights who write particular kinds of plays.  Ibsen, Miller and Brecht write them. Mamet and LaBute often write them. Pinter described what I mean by a useful play when he said he wants his audiences to leave his plays muttering “Why did they do those things? Would I have behaved that way?”

The young English playwright is a recent discovery for me. His plays are often called dark comedies.  I do not find them funny at all.  I find them gripping, incisive, and painful to read. He is an artist at making me wince in recognition of human failings.

“Contractions” is straight out of Marxian analysis of the difference between those who have jobs to give and those who must reformulate their representations of self so as to match the idiosyncrasies of the possessor of the employment “opportunity.” It is a corporate human relations nightmare.

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