Bodies review: This exploration of the ethics of global surrogacy is too bogged down in middle-class angst

Simon Thomson

Bodies is less a play than a dinner party discussion between Guardianistas. Tackling the rights and wrongs of globalised surrogacy – is it exploitative? selfish? racist? – you can imagine it being debated over fairtrade quinoa.

Amid white walls, exposed wood, large windows and Scandinavian furnishings, Clementine brings homemade kale crisps to her mature-beyond-her-years daughter. Their conversation is clipped and witty, like Gilmore Girls transposed to north London. But darkness creeps into this domestic idyll, the daughter knows things she should not, and as the world tilts sideways you realise that Clementine might not be in the best mental health.

The London stage is full of plays in which middle-aged, middle-class people angst over their fertility, so it’s a struggle to approach this material from anything approaching a new or interesting angle.

Bodies has some points in its favour – fine performances (especially from Philip Goldacre as Clementine’s disapproving father and Hannah Rae as her daughter), an intriguing central conceit – but the unreliability of the main character means you’re never quite sure if you can believe anything she says, which ultimately undermines the power of the play.

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