Victory Condition review at the Royal Court: A bizarrely mundane end-of-days play

Melissa York
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Victory Condition

If you watched Victory Condition with the sound off, you’d think it was a domestic comedy.

A nameless man and woman arrive at their ordinary flat laden with shopping bags. As they start to unpack their groceries, they speak to the audience, calmly, sometimes with a quip here or a smirk there. They make tea, pour wine, order pizza, play a video game while the other one is in the shower, taking it in turns to tell their tales. Less than an hour later, it ends.

Turn the volume up, however, and the apocalypse has arrived. Man recounts life as a soldier, working for an unidentified government, as he prowls after a young woman on the opposing side. Woman, on the other hand, is a cosseted office worker for an advertising firm, whose monotonous yet privileged world is torn apart when her colleagues start to glow ominously, her hands passing right through them as though they’re electrified ghosts.

At no point do these narratives cross paths. Man and Woman occasionally pass each other glasses or pat each other affectionately, implying there’s a romantic relationship there, but they never acknowledge each other verbally.

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Only one sentiment reverberates. Woman muses that the world won’t end with a bang, but with people still trying to live their daily lives amidst chaos. “You will not all die at once.... You will go to work. You will queue slightly longer than usual. You will feed your dog,” she says. These end of days narratives, played out against a mundane backdrop, give us a glimpse into that alternate reality.

But it isn’t enough. Emotionally, narratively, developmentally, this cluster of ideas never form a cogent whole. Far from victorious, this baffling play is in a poor condition indeed.

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