Mike Bartlett's play An Intervention is a two-hander about friendship, its responsibilities, and the roles it forces us to play. It was first performed on 16 April 2014 at Watford Palace Theatre in a co-production with Paines Plough.
The play's two characters, who in the script are designated A and B, 'can be played by actors of any age, gender or ethnicity' (in the premiere production, A was played by a woman and B by a man, so for the purposes of clarity this description follows suit). 'The play takes place in front of curtains – like Morecambe and Wise, or Abbott and Costello.' A is bright and funny with a vulnerable edge, particularly when she drinks too much. B is straighter and perhaps more conventional, but A brings out the best in him. They've always worked well together, but their friendship is no longer as close as it once was. B has a new girlfriend called Hannah. A predicts it will end in tears. B accuses A of having a drink problem. Things get worse when A goes on a march to protest against the government's military intervention in another country, while B supports the war. Neither can tolerate the other's position: but when should a friend step in, and how?
The premiere production was directed by James Grieve and designed by Lucy Osborne, with Rachael Stirling as A and John Hollingworth as B.
The premiere of An Intervention followed shortly after that of Bartlett's King Charles III, which was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 3 April 2014. Several reviewers commented on the contrast between the expansive, mock-Shakespearean form of King Charles III and the more condensed, intimate, front-of-curtain drama of An Intervention. In his review for the Daily Telegraph, Matt Trueman suggested that the two plays exhibited Bartlett's opposing 'minimalist and monsterist' tendencies and that the playwright 'could almost be his own double act'.