That Is Not Who I Am: a play that divided opinion from the outset

The Royal Court’s latest production is ‘brilliantly tricksy’

Photo from That Is Not Who I Am play
Written by ‘Dave Davidson’, a big reveal comes at the start of this production
(Image credit: Royal Court)

The Royal Court’s latest production managed to divide opinion before it even opened, said Dave Fargnoli in The Stage. Back in April, That Is Not Who I Am was announced as a thriller about identity theft, “in which nothing is as it seems”, written by “Dave Davidson”, a first-time playwright who’d worked in the security industry for decades, and who refused to share any photos of himself, for security reasons.

Naturally, this prompted a torrent of speculation, with many suspecting that Davidson did not exist, and that the actual playwright would prove to be an established author. But while some saw this as a clever marketing ploy, others were enraged by what they took to be a “smug joke at the expense of emerging artists who already feel locked out from the industry”.

In the event, said Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph, the big reveal comes at the start. We are told the play is actually called Rapture, and that it’s by the award-winning playwright Lucy Kirkwood.

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An actress playing Kirkwood (Priyanga Burford) explains that the subterfuge was required to protect her while she researched her play, about a young couple – NHS nurse Celeste (Siena Kelly) and Noah, a former soldier (Jake Davies) – who became advocates for various conspiracy theories, about climate change, Big Tech and so on, before dying in mysterious circumstances.

Rapture asks valid questions “about how power can be held to account if the powerless can be easily discredited, legitimate grains of truth lost amid piled-on supposition”; but it’s ultimately too “self-involved and woolly to hit home hard”, while the “meta-theatrical ending” is just embarrassing.

On the contrary, this is a play that delights in the way theatre is made, and I found it “brilliantly tricksy”, said Kate Wyver in The Guardian. We see the couple’s paranoia slowly intensifying, and a “relentless urgency builds as they become entangled in anti-democracy movements”. Beautifully acted, Rapture is “a thriller, a trickster and an absolute romp”.

Royal Court Theatre, London SW1 (020-7565 5000). Until 16 July.

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