Reviewing work-in-progress shows is a bit of a double-edged sword – in the end, no matter what you critique, it's a piece that isn't yet complete and is bound to have some flaws, some unrefined edges, some moments that still need work. In the case of The Debate Society's new piece, that's definitely true – there's a nugget of an idea in Jacuzzi, but it hasn't been fully developed yet.

The elephant in the room is the titular jacuzzi, which has been placed slap-bang in the centre of an otherwise rustic chalet. The characters hop in and out of it as we meet Robert, psychologist turned self-help author, his son Bobby and hired help Helene and Eric – or are they? As the hinder while seeming to help (and in the process help themselves to various bits and bobs), we start to get a sense of Robert and Bobby's relationship, which then all ends rather abruptly.

There's a lot of different themes touched on, but none seem to really stick; it's very much set in the 90s with plenty of references to politics and culture, but it doesn't necessarily seem that important to the story, which itself bumbles all over the place. Who are Helene and Eric? There are various clues dropped, but nothing is set on – making the abrupt and aggressive ending all the odder. It would be interesting if they related to Robert's experiments in child psychology, or maybe even more so if their crimes were random, but currently it's all too up in the air.

It's also a shame that the central concept of the performance is faked: admittedly, fitting and filling a jacuzzi would be a logistical nightmare, but without the noise and smell the central character is gutless. The creatives at The Debate Society talk about these all being elements that interested them in various interviews, so it's a shame to see the central object defanged.

Nonetheless, their piece they've developed around it isn't quite ready yet – but, then again, you can hardly expect a work-in-progress to be. Suffice it to say that this is still very much in that camp – it needs a good edit and rewrite that defines the story more specifically and provides a framework for their musings on 90s America. Without that, it tends to unravel – the friend I went with and I were sharing confused looks for the better part of the last half hour.

Jacuzzi, at Almeida TheatreChris Hislop reviews Jacuzzi at the Almeida Festival.3