Iíd love to report that Ed Hallís first production as artistic director of Hampstead Theatre is a stonking success. His appointment at this beleaguered venue, which has never truly arrived in its new building, is very welcome indeed, but I canít lie Ė Enlightenment is at best OK. Shelagh Stephenson isnít a very prolific playwright but she has written some interesting plays, notably The Memory of Water. Her subject this time is the disappearance of a son whilst back-packing, using this story to explore themes of connectedness and unease in the post-09/11 world. What you get is a tale which is part thriller part mystery which doesnít really go anywhere but passes a couple of hours you donít necessarily regret but you wonít be talking about soon after leaving the theatre. Itís fairly intriguing and occasionally funny, though a lot of the dialogue seems forced and clumsy, as if she really hadnít believed in her own characters. Francis OíConnorís design is outstanding Ė a minimalist home which easily morphs into other locations like an airport and a park with a few props and excellent projections on the walls and ceiling. The acting honours belong to newcomer Tom Weston-Jones, though heís lucky to have the most interesting character. Julie Graham and Richard Clothier were unconvincing as the parents and Polly Kempís psychic and Daisy Beaumontís documentary maker were mere caricatures. Paul Freeman makes a very believable politician / grandfather.
The rest of Hallís first season looks promising, though allowing three writers to direct their own work and letting Katie Mitchell, the queen of pretension, loose in the new studio may prove foolhardy! - Gareth James
13 Oct 10
Are some of these comments for the same play? I thought it didn't quite convince but was full of ideas some of them bad. Applying non-locality to people makes my theoretical physics brain shriek with rage but hey when has art been safe or sensible.
Julie Graham was tremendous repeating her heartbreaking quest for the lost son she started in Survivors.
But the evening belonged to the young actor playing the faux Adam; he was mesmerizingly good at partly hidden evil masquerading as civility. - jeremyb
13 Oct 10
Dull and unengaging - the cast do their best with this material but a dud to open Hall's reign. - James
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