She is immediately convincing as the wilful, not always likeable but ultimately tragic former World War II spy turned diplomat’s wife and aspiring mother.
Susan lives her life with the notion that if you want something you should just grab it, but her inability to acquaint her previous life of excitement with a supposedly brave new but ultimately inward-looking Britain leads her beyond recklessness and into mental instability.
Between times she is equally defined and tested by characters who either confront or conspire with a would-be free spirit shackled only by historical values, both personal and public. The cream of those associates are long-term bohemian pal Alice (a delightfully playful Kirsty Bushell), cuff-linked realist husband Raymond (the excellent Edward Bennett), who is initially drawn to but swiftly despairing of Susan’s behaviour, and his old school boss Sir Leonard, delivered with authority and dour wit by Insp Frost’s former nemesis Bruce Alexander.
Acclaimed director Thea Sharrock opts for a frugal set in this intimate space to further enhance focus on a sharp, at times intense, performance of a Hare script that is both rich, broad, humorous and deep, rendering the nudity scenes of the first half almost gratuitous.
Clear-cut personalities and shifting social codes and circumstance highlight Susan’s evolving volatile and compromising nature as Hare takes us in and out of three eras set against historical backdrops such as the Festival of Britain and the Suez Crisis to measure her mental tenure against that of public mood.
Plenty runs until February 26.