Alexander McNab dominates the stage as an Afrikaans media baronJohannes Hjorth

“Is incompetence meant to be charming?”, perhaps the most piercing question posed, and answered, by Pravda. No, not really.

Let’s start with the positives: the play revolves around an Afrikaans media baron, very ably and engagingly played by Alasdair McNab, and when I say revolves around I mean almost completely. His acerbic and insidious energy dominate the stage, making it perfectly possible to forget some of the other characters are even there.

Sam Knights also provided rare moments of interest and genuine humour, and someone clearly picked up on this and had the good sense to cast him in what seemed to be the majority of the roles. And some of the set pieces almost worked.

The play is set in the 80s, something that great pains are taken to make clear with copious Soft Cell and Eurythmics overplayed with a droning Margaret Thatcher. Apparently in the 80s rooms were made of papier-mâché, the props as well, but sadly none was left over to hold together some of the dialogue.

The whole experience seemed flat and uncertain, perhaps best exemplified by the perplexing dance numbers kicking off each half. I’ve seen tighter choreographed and more exuberant dancing in Cindies. The sound and lighting played tortoise and hare with the action, a perplexing image of two boring men seemed to haunt the back wall of the set with no explanation, but got malaised by the second half and left.

There was a palpable lack of direction, some players looming as caricatures whilst others were colourless and one-dimensional. It suited the source better when it was more Spitting Image than shadow puppets, but this distinct gulf between acting styles gave a stilted and staccato performance.

In one scene eight of the leading players were sat deep in conversation about something, I was too bored to listen but apparently just bored enough to count, and one character magically produced a cheese sandwich. I found myself captivated by this sandwich. How did he get it? Was he enjoying it? Did he wish he’d opted for white bread instead of brown? It was gripping stuff.

Perhaps this was a masterstroke of sleight-handed direction. Perhaps the actor's own subtle allegory. Perhaps like me he was just a little bored but had the good foresight to bring a snack. Whatever the cause, I think I’m safe in saying that a play in which one of the best roles was played by a piece of cheese and two bits of bread is one that I cannot bring myself to recommend.