Tim Crouch, Britain’s best mannered theatrical subversive, is at it again. Standing in the lobby of the Skirball Cultural Center with his performing partner Hannah Ringham, he politely gathers a small, straggly audience for what appears to be a tour of the Skirball’s new exhibition, “Women Hold Up Half the Sky,” but is actually a prelude to his devious little play “England,” written expressly for art galleries.
Anyone who enjoyed “An Oak Tree” at the Odyssey Theatre last year or “The Author” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in February will surely be intrigued to see what else Crouch has up his nontraditional storytelling sleeve. Like his other works, “England” has a narrative but, in keeping with his usual method, the fragments are delivered in such a way that an audience cannot just sit back and expect its entertainment to be spoon-fed to them.
This rule-flouting drama, first performed in Edinburgh in 2007 and running through Sunday at the Skirball, doesn’t reward passivity. The effort required is more than just physical, even though spectators for the first half of the play will be asked to troop around parts of an exhibition inspired by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”