When Mark Ravenhill wrote Shopping and Fucking it was decided that a judicious use of asterisks would appease public sensibilities. Grae Cleugh has gone one step further in calling his first play F***ing Games.
The subject matter - gay sexual politics and promiscuity - makes it a prime candidate for the Jerwood Studio Upstairs - the Royal Court's studio theatre.
With this play in Sloane Square and Ravenhill's Mother Clap's Molly House on the stage of the Lyttleton at the National Theatre, gay themes plays are being performed at both ends of the theatrical scale.
Previous generations of Lord Chamberlains, whose job it was until the late 1960s to censor plays, would be spinning in their graves at the idea of both these shows. Both of them depict simulated sex on stage, while F***ing Games also has detailed description of sex - in a scene that is reminiscent of one in Shopping and Fucking - in both cases characters are asked to describe their most bizarre sexual experience.
The Royal Court's radical reputation is thus being upheld - upstairs, at any rate - while its building, recently restored to great critical acclaim, is also at the cutting edge, being a remarkably successful example of theatre restoration that combines the modern (minimalist, unfussy), traditional (wood, exposed brickwork and iron) and the comfortable (leather chairs).
Royal Court Box Office: 020 7565 5000 —by Paul Webb Theatrenow