Search Partyâ€™s Jodie Hawkes and Pete Phillips are parents. Like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they have a son, born in the same year as Prince George. But thatâ€™s where the similarity ends. A cardboard cutout of the duke and duchess holding their little bundle, smiling serenely and promoting an impossibly perfect image of parenthood, looms over the chaos on a stage covered with pink plastic toys.
There is a wonderful sequence, which every exhausted parent will recognise, in which Hawkes attempts to pick up the toys littering the floor. It is a never-ending job, a Herculean labour that â€“ like parenthood itself â€“ will never be finished because she drops one every time she clasps another one into her arms.
There is much to recognise in a piece that sometimes lacks focus but which neatly highlights and skewers the competitiveness of contemporary parenting, even as it celebrates the quiet, unsung heroism of ordinary people struggling to raise children in circumstances far removed from that of the duke and duchess. The parents on stage have not just been sold a miniature, pink Barbie and Ken sports car, but also an absurd happy-ever-after concept of a world in which all men grow up to be princes and all women princesses. There is a wry variation on The Princess and the Pea, and pointed nods towards Snow White and Cinderella. Role models and gender roles are continually prodded by presenting extreme versions of them.
This is also a show driven by anger, pitching the privilege enjoyed by the prince against those of many children growing up in the UK. The prince will receive the finest education money can buy, inherit vast wealth and the throne. The showâ€™s final litany is a peon to the dispossessed and have-nots who come from another England; one in which there are no pension pots, no foot on the property ladder and no noses in the trough.