James McAvoy starring in Peter Barnes' satirical play The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy West End.
The (black) humour of the play hinges on one of two things; (1) whether you find the idea of a paranoid schizophrenic psychopath British nobleman inheriting a peerage funny, or (2) whether you find a talented actor playing a paranoid schizophrenic psychopath British nobleman inheriting a peerage funny. We are in 'laugh at' vs 'laugh with' territory again.
For me the answer to (1) was "not really."
The answer to (2) was (as the actor in question is James McAvoy) "largely, yes."
So here it was - a rather broad, rather blunt attack on those who rule us (clue: they all talk in posh accents, went to Eton, own country estates, and hate the poor.)
When the play worked it was fine - the action was zany and madcap with Mr McAvoy sparkling as mad Jack. He got to show us his unicycling skills, his ripped bod, his demon smile and his underwear.
When it didn't work (especially in the 2nd half) it rather reminded me of a 'trendy vicar' routine I used to do when I was a member of the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society (CULES) back in 1982 - cringingly old hat.
3 stars (mainly for Mr McAvoy's spirited performance and evil grin)