I came out of this play and immediately wanted to watch the whole thing over again. Loved it, was provoked by it, am awe inspired by it. I'd queue again for an hour in the cold to get a day ticket but I'd far rather the RNT were kind to us provincials and toured it. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
20 Jan 03
What a sensational play! Bravo to the playwright, Mr. Hampton, and the entire cast. Mr. Tim Hatley's ingenious set shines in this compelling production. I hope it'll have a West End future. Would someone please bring this to America soon? - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
15 Jan 03
Excellent, excellent! Saw it three times. Entire cast is great, especially Jodhi May, and, of course, Ralph Fiennes. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
14 Jan 03
This would have to be the worst play I have seen in 20 years of theatre-going. It is complete TRIPE, and I want to rate it a big fat 0, but I don't seem to be able to do that on the score counter. What a waste of a great cast, and I don't care what anyone says about the "inventive" staging, it is just plain scary and distracting to have the actors cavorting about on the second-floor balcony without a handrail in sight. I am someone who would show up to watch Ralph Fiennes read a telephone book, and how I wish he had done on the night I went, because it would have made for a far more entertaining evening. When I think of the palaver that we went through to get tickets, I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I'm so glad that the National limited tickets to two per application, because you couldn't PAY me to sit through this play again. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
14 Jan 03
It's a really strong play - I saw it last week with Dominic Rowan reading in the part of Freud - although this inevitably impairs it, despite Rowan's extremely detailed and nuanced reading, you nonetheless get a really strong sense of what a cracking play it would have been with Hazledine in the part. Fortunately, Freud is only the tertiary character in it - it would be a greater detriment if Fiennes of the extraordinary Jodhi May were unable to participate. Still, what made the show for me was the design and the director. How often could you call a set 'thrilling'? It's brilliantly done. And once again Howard Davies directs with huge sensitivity, investing resonant and recurring touches throughout. I didn't think the play was perhaps as revolutionary as it may have thought, and the dynamite ending of Act 1 wasn't fully developed thereafter, but it's still another certain National classic and I wish them all the best in getting it back onto the rails. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
08 Jan 03
Events, those wretched imponderables, have raised public awareness of Christopher Hampton’s latest work to unprecedented levels for a new play. The early buzz, sparked by the casting of screen star Ralph Fiennes as the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, was a gift to the NT publicity department. Later headlines were not so welcome, arising as they did from the sad passing of James Hazeldine who had been playing Sigmund Freud up to the first previews. But one thing is certain: events, controllable or otherwise, have ensured that the entire run of The Talking Cure is sold out.
But what of the play? How much of an event is it, after all that? The answer, happily, is that it’s pretty special, thanks in no small part to the Rolls-Royce production the NT has afforded this star vehicle by one of our leading playwrights. Director Howard Davies responds to the material with his customary imagination and visual flair: he reinvents the Cottesloe space with a spectacular Tim Hatley design that spans the entire length and height of the auditorium (configured widthways) on three giddying levels. With its kaleidoscope of sliding doors and zooming fire-escape ladders there’s scarcely room for the audience.
Hampton’s text is literate but perhaps over-literal. The dramatic structure confines itself to linear biographical storytelling, its chronological sequence only broken by one undeveloped and rather tacky pre-interval shock moment. The play focuses on a key period when Jung’s early experiments with psychoanalysis drew him far too close to one of his patients, a young Russian girl, Sabina Spielrein (Jodhi May in a compelling performance that arouses the audience to compassion just as surely as her character arouses Jung’s libido). This case of ‘gross moral turpitude’, as Malcolm Bradbury put it in The History Man (which was adapted for television by Hampton himself) proved to be crucially important in the complex life of this complex fellow – ironically the very man who coined the noun ‘complex’ as a medical condition, as the play reminds us.
Jung’s professional colleagues, Sigmund Freud and Otto Gross (both now played by Dominic Rowan) emerge, respectively, as a squeamish preener prone to fainting fits and a dissolute drug addict with an ethical by-pass. Really, were all these shrinks as unhinged as they appear in this play? One suspects they probably were. The old cliché about the fine line between genius and madness emerges strongly here, especially when Jung experiences sinister premonitions and teeters on the brink of a well-earned nervous breakdown.
Performances are uniformly strong, although I suspect Jodhi May’s spectacular turn will linger in the mind the longest. Dominic Rowan creates sharp distinctions between his dual roles; he is too young for Freud, of course, but in other respects he is wholly convincing. Ralph Fiennes is both restrained and generous: a rich-toned, deep-thinking actor who serves the role, not his ego, and in doing so finds real insight into the tortuous, often tortured mind of his subject.
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
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