Jacobi Closes in Whitemore’s God Only KnowsDate: 22 May 2001
God Only Knows, the Tuscany-based drama starring Derek Jacobi, is to close when its current booking period ends on 9 June 2001. Hugh Whitemore's play, which has received some less than flattering notices, will finish its West End life after a run of 12 weeks, having previously enjoyed two successful months in the regionals.
Directed by Anthony Page, the production opened at the Vaudeville Theatre on 20 March. The story is centred upon four holidaymakers, whose peace is disturbed by a stranger with secret information about the Vatican and Italian antiquities. Debate on religious matters plays a central part in the ensuing proceedings, as secrets gradually begin to unfold.
Not all critics were united in their animosity. This is Local London praised Jacobi's performance and claimed that the "philosophical arguments drive the narrative to a rousing and nail-biting climax". However, Sheridan Morley for the International Herald Tribune described it as the "most spectacularly, hysterically awful drama to have hit the West End in a long time". Morley also pointed out that Whitemore had previously given Jacobi one of his most acclaimed stage roles, as a doomed gay scientist in Breaking the Code.
A spokesperson for the Vaudeville Theatre said they could expect to know within a week or two what might be following on from God Only Knows, but that nothing was confirmed as yet. Commenting on adverse press reaction, the theatre stated, "We've had people coming who've read cynical comments here and there, but have said they thought the play was brilliant. Also, copies of the script on sale here have been flying out. It was always scheduled to close on 9 June, but obviously had it been an absolute runaway success then it would have been extended."
Whitemore's previous West End play, A Letter of Resignation, had an extended London run at the Comedy Theatre before transferring to the Savoy in 1997-98. He has also written extensively for film and television. Currently alongside Jacobi in God Only Knows is an impressive cast including Francesca Hunt and David Yelland.
- by Gareth Thompson